Purpose: Patients with early-stage, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer have considerable residual risk for recurrence after completing 5 years of adjuvant tamoxifen. In May 2001, the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) initiated accrual to a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial to evaluate the steroidal aromatase inhibitor exemestane as extended adjuvant therapy in this setting. Patients and Methods: Postmenopausal patients with clinical T1-3N1M0 breast cancer who were disease free after 5 years of tamoxifen were randomly assigned to 5 years of exemestane (25 mg/d orally) or 5 years of placebo. Our primary aim was to test whether exemestane prolongs disease-free survival (DFS). In October 2003, results of National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC) MA.17 showing benefit from adjuvant letrozole in this setting necessitated termination of accrual to B-33, unblinding, and offering of exemestane to patients in the placebo group. Results At the time of unblinding, 1,598 patients had been randomly assigned; 72% in the exemestane group continued on exemestane and 44% in the placebo group elected to receive exemestane. With 30 months of median follow-up, original exemestane assignment resulted in a borderline statistically significant improvement in 4-year DFS (91% v 89%; relative risk [RR] = 0.68; P = .07) and in a statistically significant improvement in 4-year relapse-free survival (RFS; 96% v 94%; RR = 0.44; P = .004). Toxicity, assessed up to time of unblinding, was acceptable for the adjuvant setting. Conclusion: Despite premature closure and crossover to exemestane by a substantial proportion of patients, original exemestane assignment resulted in non-statistically significant improvement in DFS and in statistically significant improvement in RFS.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research