Biologic basis and evolving role of aromatase inhibitors in the management of invasive carcinoma of the breast

Henry Mark Kuerer, Aman U Buzdar, S. Eva Singletary

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

13 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: The most powerful predictor of the response of breast cancers to hormonal therapy is the presence of estrogen receptors in the tumor cells. Estrogen receptors are expressed in approximately 35-55% of all breast tumors but up to 80-90% of tumors from women older than 55 years. Methods: At this time, tamoxifen remains the first-line hormonal therapy for breast cancer of all stages. However, the aromatase inhibitors are evolving into an important treatment option. Aromatase inhibitors prevent the conversion of precursors (androgens) to estrogens. Results: On the basis of several randomized clinical trials, aromatase inhibitors have become established as the second-line therapy for post-menopausal women with advanced breast cancer progressing during tamoxifen therapy. Furthermore, very recent trials support the use of these agents as first-line therapy in place of tamoxifen. Conclusions: The roles of the selective aromatase inhibitors in the prevention of breast cancer and in the neoadjuvant and adjuvant treatment of early-stage breast cancer are the focus of several planned and ongoing large-scale clinical trials. These trials will answer some of the many questions that remain regarding optimal hormonal therapy for hormone-dependent breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-147
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of surgical oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 21 2001


  • Aromatase inhibitors and antagonists
  • Breast neoplasms
  • Clinical trials
  • Estrogen-receptors/metabolism
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology

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