In a new trial presented to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago this weekend, scientists have suggested that extending standard anti-hormone therapies to a ten-year course could help breast cancer patients reduce their chances of suffering a recurrence.
The large study followed 1,918 women who took an aromatase inhibitor called letrozole or a placebo for 5 years after already having had 5 years on an aromatase inhibitor – some women had also taken tamoxifen, a different kind of anti-hormone drug, before the first aromatase inhibitor.
The results show that after an extra 5 years on an aromatase inhibitor, 95% of patients had no signs of cancer, whereas 91% of those on placebo were disease-free – a statistically significant benefit to the extra 5 years of aromatase inhibitor.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:
“This a really important study that could one day have a major impact on how we use anti-hormone breast cancer treatments.
“The results suggest that taking aromatase inhibitors for ten years rather than just five could reduce the chances of a patient’s breast cancer coming back, as we already know is the case with tamoxifen.
“But while this trial showed short-term benefits for patients by doubling the course of standard treatment, we now need to understand the long-term impacts on their survival.
“How this treatment extension might affect a patient’s quality of life also needs to be investigated before we can consider asking women to live with the side-effects of treatment for an additional five years.”