Are aromatase inhibitors beneficial beyond 5 years?

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Question from Kathryn: I've read that women in other countries with invasive advanced breast cancer (receptor positive) are taking Arimidex for longer than 5 years (10 years) and are having better outcomes -- less recurrence, decreased risk of cancer spreading to other parts of the body, decreased risk of new cancer developing in the other breast. Is this true? Thank you.
Answers - Andrew D. Seidman, M.D. The question regarding the duration of Arimidex (chemical name: anastrozole), an aromatase inhibitor, can be addressed by considering the available clinical trial data. Five years of aromatase inhibitor is currently considered to be the standard in care. We also know that patients who receive tamoxifen can benefit from extended 5-year aromatase inhibitor therapy. We also know that following 2 years of tamoxifen, switching to an aromatase inhibitor for the rest of the 5 years is another option. However, using an aromatase inhibitor beyond 5 years is a question that is currently the subject of a clinical trial, known as MA17R, so currently, extended use of aromatase inhibitor beyond 5 years cannot be considered the standard of care. Having said that, a careful discussion between physician and patient can result in a decision to continue based on careful consideration of the known risk and, to be sure, the unknown benefits.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Updates From the 2010 ASCO Annual Meeting featured Andrew Seidman, M.D. and Beth Baughman DuPree, M.D., F.A.C.S. answering your questions about the latest updates on breast cancer risk, screening techniques, treatment options, and more.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in June 2010.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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