Anastrozole, a potent and selective aromatase inhibitor, versus megestrol acetate in postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer: Results of overview analysis of two phase III trials

A. Buzdar, W. Jonat, A. Howell, S. E. Jones, C. Blomqvist, C. L. Vogel, W. Eiermann, J. M. Wolter, M. Azab, A. Webster, P. V. Plourde

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Purpose: To compare the efficacy and tolerability of anastrazole (1 and 10 mg once daily), a selective, oral, nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitor, and megestrol acetate (40 mg four times daily), in postmenopausal women who progressed following tamoxifen treatment. Patients and Methods: Two randomized, double-blind for anastrazole, open-label for megestrol acetate, parallel-group, multicenter trials were conducted in 764 patients. Because both trials were identical in design, an analysis of the combined results was performed to strengthen interpretation of results from each trial. Results: The median follow-up duration was approximately 6 months. The estimated progression hazards ratios were 0.97 (97.5% confidence interval [CI], 0.75 to 1.24) for anastrazole 1 mg versus megestrol acetate and 0.92 (97.5% CI, 0.71 to 1.19) for anastrozole 10 mg versus megestrol acetate. The overall median time to progression was approximately 21 weeks. Approximately one third of patients in each group benefited from treatment. Twenty-seven patients (10.3%) in the anastrozole 1-mg group, 22 (8.9%) in the anastrozole 10-mg group, and 20 (7.9%) in the megestrol acetate group had a complete or partial response, and 66 (25.1%), 56 (22.6%), and 66 (26.1%) patients, respectively, had stable disease for ≤ 24 weeks. For all end paints, individual trial results were similar to the results of the combined analysis. Anastrozole and megestrol acetate were well tolerated. Gastrointestinal disturbance was more common among patients in the anastrozole groups than the megestrol acetate group; the difference between the anastrozole 10 mg and megestrol acetate groups was significant (P = .005). Significantly fewer patients in the anastrozole 1-mg (P < .0001) and 10-mg (P < .002) groups had weight gain than in the megestrol acetate group. More than 30% of megestrol acetate-treated patients had weight gain ≤ 5%, and 10% of patients had weight gain ≤ 10%. Patients who received megestrol acetate continued to gain weight over time. Conclusion: Anastrozole, 1 and 10 mg once daily, is well tolerated and as effective as megestrol acetate in the treatment of postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer who progressed following tamoxifen treatment. Moreover, anastrozole therapy avoids the weight gain associated with megestrol acetate treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2000-2011
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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