Our trusted patient education publications and website contain comprehensive and reliable information about cancer, treatment facilities, support groups, and links to other informative websites.
Get a Free copy Today!
This is an opportunity to summarize results of a major international study involving over 8000 postmenopausal women with hormone positive breast cancers who received either Tamoxifen or letrazole (Femara) for 5 years*. In this randomized trial, adjuvant treatment with letrozole, as compared with tamoxifen, reduced the risk of recurrent disease, especially at distant sites.
Letrozole (Femara, Novartis) is a third generation hormone therapy approved by the FDA for the treatment of local or metastatic breast cancer that is hormone receptor positive or has an unknown receptor status in postmenopausal women.
It is important to emphasize that the risk profile for these two commonly prescribed drugs are quite different and that is why your doctor will be going over your medical history and deciding which may be a better tolerated drug. In this study, thromboembolism, hot flashes,night sweats, endometrial cancer, and vaginal bleeding were more common in the tamoxifen group. Women given letrozole had a higher incidence of bone related events (such as fractures), cardiac events and elevated cholesterol levels. The higher incidence of bone fractures and joint pains is the reason that which is why prescriptions of Letrozole are often accompanied by prescriptions of osteoporosis-fighting medications such asbiphoshonates, such as biphosphonates (Zoledronic acid or Zometa, Novartis)
*A comparison of letrozole and tamoxifen in postmenopausal women with early breast cancer. New England Journal of medicine. 2005 Dec 29;353:2747-57 and updated information in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2007 May 20;25:2147-8