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New Breast Cancer Drugs Top Tamoxifen

Patients on Aromatase Inhibitors Live Longer, Study Shows

Tamoxifen Still Needed continued...

"These are all unanswered questions at this point," Hayes says. "We may be able to individualize treatment with these two drugs in the future."

Eric Winer, MD, who directs the Breast Oncology Center at Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, agrees.

"Ultimately, the hope is that we will be able to identify tumor or patient characteristics that can guide us in the choice of treatment," he tells WebMD. "It may be that some patients will benefit most from treatment with an aromatase inhibitor immediately, while another will do better with a few years of tamoxifen, followed by an aromatase inhibitor."

The American Society of Clinical Oncology now recommends the use of aromatase inhibitors for the treatment of hormone-receptor-positive tumors in postmenopausal women, either as first-line or second-line treatment. Winer chaired the ASCO panel which made the recommendation.

"These drugs are clearly beneficial, but the jury is still very much out on whether patients should start with these drugs and take them for five years, or whether taking tamoxifen for a few years followed by an aromatase inhibitor may be beneficial."

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