Am J Health Syst Pharm 1998 Mar 1;55(5):445-452

Anastrozole: a selective aromatase inhibitor for the treatment of breast cancer.

Higa GM, alKhouri N

School of Pharmacy, Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, West Virginia University, Morgantown 26506-9520, USA.

The role of anastrozole, a new selective aromatase inhibitor, in treating hormone-responsive metastatic breast cancer is discussed. Treatment options for hormone-dependent breast cancer focus on interfering with the endocrine system in an attempt to modify the effects of estrogen. Tamoxifen is the drug of choice for primary endocrine therapy, but there is a need for agents with similar or greater efficacy and better tolerability. Anastrozole inhibits the conversion of androgens to estrogens by aromatase. Bioavailability studies have demonstrated almost complete absorption of anastrozole after oral administration. The drug's terminal half-life after multiple doses is 50 hours. Anastrozole is cleared principally by the liver. Clinical trials comparing anastrozole with megestrol acetate demonstrated no significant differences in clinical efficacy, although a follow-up study revealed a longer median overall survival rate in patients receiving anastrozole. The drug is well tolerated. Among the most frequently reported adverse effects are asthenia, hot flashes, headache, and back pain. The recommended dosage is 1 mg daily. The average wholesale cost of month's supply of anastrozole is $187.20, compared with approximately $100 for generic megestrol acetate or aminoglutethimide plus hydrocortisone. Although anastrozole will likely become the preferred second-line agent in the treatment of postmenopausal breast cancer in patients with disease progression after tamoxifen therapy, it is not a therapeutic alternative to aminoglutethimide on the basis of approved indications. Anastrozole and other aromatase inhibitors may have multiple applications in treating hormone-responsive breast cancer.

PMID: 9522927, UI: 98183528

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