ArticleA Comparison of the Efficacy of Aromatase Inhibitors in Second-Line Treatment of Metastatic Breast CancerRose, Carsten, M.D.Author Information From the Department of Oncology, Lund University Hospital, Lund, Sweden. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Carsten Rose, Department of Oncology, Lund University Hospital, Lund 221 85, Sweden. American Journal of Clinical Oncology: August 2003 - Volume 26 - Issue 4 - p S9-S16 Buy Abstract Randomized clinical trials have established the role of third-generation aromatase inhibitors (AIs) (letrozole, anastrozole, and exemestane) as standard treatment for patients with hormone-sensitive metastatic breast cancer who have experienced disease progression with antiestrogen therapy. Significant gains in clinical efficacy and improved tolerability over progestins (megestrol acetate) and the first-generation AI aminoglutethimide have positioned these agents above previous therapies. Estrogen receptor (ER) status remains the best predictive determinant of endocrine response, and further randomized trials with properly selected patient populations may distinguish individual AIs within this class. A recently completed, randomized, head-to-head phase III trial of letrozole versus anastrozole as second-line endocrine therapy demonstrated a significant difference in objective response rate for letrozole compared with anastrozole (19% versus 12%, respectively; P = 0.014), with similar time to progression. The improved efficacy and safety of AIs as second-line endocrine therapies has spawned trials of their use as first-line endocrine therapy versus tamoxifen for patients with metastatic breast cancer. Based on favorable results from these trials, letrozole and anastrozole have also been approved for use as first-line treatment of postmenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer. © 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.