A woman's heart

Michael S. Ewer, Stefan Glück

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Adjuvant therapy in postmenopausal women with breast cancer may contribute to the expression of underlying cardiovascular disease or expose the heart to additional toxicities. Tamoxifen remains an important component of endocrine therapy for breast cancer. although major clinical trials of the aromatase inhibitors (Als) anastrozole. letrozole. and exemestane suggest that these agents are more effective and better tolerated alternatives to tamoxifen. The Als inhibit the conversion of androgens to estrogen in postmenopausal women; consequently. their mechanism of action differs from that of tamoxifen. Accordingly. although it has been observed that tamoxifen has some favorable effects on cardiovascular risk. such as reducing total cholesterol levels. because of its partial estrogen-agonist properties. no such effects exist for the Als. Some studies. particularly those that compare the Als with tamoxifen. have suggested a less favorable impact of adjuvant Al therapy on cardiovascular risk. Comorbid conditions. including cardiovascular disease. emerge as competing causes of death as women with breast cancer continue to live longer. and the potential impact of adjuvant therapies on cardiovascular risk becomes an increasingly important consideration for clinicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1813-1826
Number of pages14
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Anastrozole
  • Aromatase inhibitors
  • Breast cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Exemestane
  • Letrozole
  • Tamoxifen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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