Exemestane, Letrozole, or Anastrozole in Treating Postmenopausal Women Who Are Undergoing Surgery for Stage II or Stage III Breast Cancer

01:15 EDT 27th March 2015 | BioPortfolio


RATIONALE: Estrogen can cause the growth of breast cancer cells. Hormone therapy using exemestane, letrozole, or anastrozole, may fight breast cancer by lowering the amount of estrogen the body makes. Giving exemestane, letrozole, or anastrozole before surgery may make the tumor smaller and reduce the amount of normal tissue that needs to be removed. It is not yet known whether exemestane, letrozole, or anastrozole is more effective in treating breast cancer.

PURPOSE: This randomized phase III trial is studying exemestane, letrozole, and anastrozole to compare how well they work in treating postmenopausal women who are undergoing surgery for stage II or stage III breast cancer.




- Determine whether anastrozole, exemestane, or letrozole administered for 16 to 18 weeks as neoadjuvant endocrine treatment for postmenopausal patients with stage II or stage III estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer should be chosen as the aromatase inhibitor arm of a future study that will compare neoadjuvant aromatase inhibitor (AI) treatment with neoadjuvant chemotherapy. (Cohort A)

- To determine whether patients who have a high Ki-67 value (> 10%) after 2 weeks of neoadjuvant AI treatment experience a higher than expected pathological response rate to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (20%) than would be typically observed for postmenopausal patients with unselected ER+ rich tumors (estimated to be 5%), indicating that an early assessment of proliferation is a useful approach to the identification of a chemotherapy sensitive subgroup of ER+ tumors. (Cohort B [patients enrolled after the 375th patient])


- Compare the neoadjuvant treatment regimens relative to the rates of improvement in surgical outcome: mastectomy with primary skin closure and negative surgical margins (for T4 a, b, c tumors); breast conserving surgery with negative final margins (for T3 tumors and T2 tumors classified as requiring mastectomy at baseline); breast conserving surgery at first attempt (for T2 tumors classified as potential candidates for breast conservation).

- Compare and confirm the radiological response rates (mammography and ultrasound by central radiological analysis) between these three neoadjuvant treatment regimens.

- Compare the relative safety of the neoadjuvant treatment regimens in terms of reported adverse events.

- To compare the tumor pathologic size between the neoadjuvant treatment regimens, to compare the rates of pathological complete response, and to compare down-staging to stage I.

- To compare the rate of complete cell cycle response between the three treatment regimens (Ki67 staining of 1% or less in the post treatment sample).

- Compare the incidence of metastatic lymph node involvement on the three arms of the study in patients who have a lymph node dissection at the end of neoadjuvant treatment.

- Determine the 10-year incidence of local recurrence in patients treated with these regimens.

- To collect tumor tissue, serum specimens, and plasma specimens to develop predictive biomarkers that can be used to select tumors for neoadjuvant AI therapy.

- Collect surgical specimens post-AI neoadjuvant therapy to identify markers of de novo resistence to AI therapy.

OUTLINE: This is a multicenter study comprising cohort A (phase III study) and cohort B (phase II study). Once cohort A accrual is met (375 patients), subsequent patients are enrolled to cohort B. Patients in both cohorts are stratified according to T stage (T2 vs T3 vs T4), and randomized to 1 of 3 aromatase inhibition (AI) treatment arms.

- Arm I: Patients receive oral exemestane once daily for 16-18 weeks.

- Arm II: Patients receive oral letrozole once daily for 16-18 weeks.

- Arm III: Patients receive oral anastrozole once daily for 16-18 weeks. Patients in cohort B undergo breast biopsy after 2-4 weeks of AI treatment for analysis of Ki-67 levels. Patients with Ki-67 level ≤ 10% continue AI treatment. Patients with Ki-67 level > 10% (high) are given the option to switch to neoadjuvant chemotherapy or undergo immediate breast surgery.

After completion of AI therapy, all patients undergo partial or radical mastectomy or lumpectomy with or without lymph node dissection.

After surgery, patients are followed up periodically for 10 years.

PROJECTED ACCRUAL: A total of 567 patients (375 for cohort A and 192 for cohort B) will be accrued for this study.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Primary Purpose: Treatment


Breast Cancer


anastrozole, exemestane, letrozole


University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute
United States




National Cancer Institute (NCI)

Results (where available)

View Results


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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

Metastatic breast cancer characterized by EDEMA and ERYTHEMA of the affected breast due to LYMPHATIC METASTASIS and eventual obstruction of LYMPHATIC VESSELS by the cancer cells.

A infiltrating (invasive) breast cancer, relatively uncommon, accounting for only 5%-10% of breast tumors in most series. It is often an area of ill-defined thickening in the breast, in contrast to the dominant lump characteristic of ductal carcinoma. It is typically composed of small cells in a linear arrangement with a tendency to grow around ducts and lobules. There is likelihood of axillary nodal involvement with metastasis to meningeal and serosal surfaces. (DeVita Jr et al., Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology, 3d ed, p1205)

Carbohydrate antigen elevated in patients with tumors of the breast, ovary, lung, and prostate as well as other disorders. The mucin is expressed normally by most glandular epithelia but shows particularly increased expression in the breast at lactation and in malignancy. It is thus an established serum marker for breast cancer.

Tumors or cancer of the human BREAST.

The phosphoprotein encoded by the BRCA1 gene (GENE, BRCA1). In normal cells the BRCA1 protein is localized in the nucleus, whereas in the majority of breast cancer cell lines and in malignant pleural effusions from breast cancer patients, it is localized mainly in the cytoplasm. (Science 1995;270(5237):713,789-91)

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