6 June 2003
Postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer now have another treatment choice in the management of their disease.
This follows the listing of anastrazole (brand name Arimidex) on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for the treatment of advanced hormone-dependent breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
Anastrozole can also be prescribed as adjuvant therapy (treatment that improves the action of another medication) in women with early breast cancer, however, it is not currently PBS subsidised for primary prevention of breast cancer.
Professor John Boyages, executive director of the New South Wales Breast Cancer Institute, has welcomed the increased availability of anastrazole for this group of women.
'We have seen advances in breast cancer treatments over the years but we are always looking for more effective and better tolerated treatments,' Professor Boyages said.
An analysis of 2 randomised double-blind trials compared the effectiveness and tolerability of anastrazole with that of tamoxifen, the current standard treatment for this type of breast cancer (Cancer 2001; 92: 2247-2258).
'Results from the studies show that anastrazole is at least as effective as tamoxifen in postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer,' Professor Boyages said.
Both treatments were well tolerated, however, there were fewer serious side effects such as deep vein thrombosis in women treated with anastrazole.
Oestrogen is responsible for stimulating tumour growth in around 75 per cent of the breast cancers diagnosed in postmenopausal women, so-called hormone-dependent breast cancer.
In women with hormone-dependent breast cancer, anastrazole provided greater benefit in delaying the progress of the disease.
Anastrozole reduces the growth of a tumour by blocking the action of aromatase, a chemical found in fatty tissue that drives the production of oestrogen in postmenopausal women.
Last Reviewed: 10 June 2003