Vascular effects of aromatase inhibitors: data from clinical trials.
AffiliationCRUK Department of Medical Oncology, University of Manchester, Wilmslow Road, Manchester M20 4BX, UK. email@example.com
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AbstractAromatase inhibitors (AIs) are becoming the endocrine treatment of first choice for postmenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer and are under investigation for use in breast cancer prevention. AIs reduce circulating estrogen to barely detectable concentrations. It is possible that such a low concentration will be deleterious to the vascular system since estrogen receptors are known to be in the cell walls of blood vessels and estrogen is thought to be important in maintaining blood vessel integrity. Because most women who present with primary breast cancer are cured by surgery and systemic therapy and the major cause of female death is vascular disease, it is particularly important to investigate the vascular side effects of AIs in current breast cancer adjuvant and prevention trials. In order to set the vascular toxicities of AIs reported in the current adjuvant trials into context, here we compare them with the toxicities seen during treatment with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). Clinical trial evidence indicates that HRT increases risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) whereas SERMs and AIs (to date) appear to be neutral. Cerebrovascular disease and venous thromboembotic events are increased by HRT and SERMs but appear to be unaffected by treatment with AIs. Cognitive function is also considered here since it may also have a vascular component and is potentially a serious potential side effect/benefit of AIs. Recent studies indicate that HRT has a small detrimental effect on cognitive function and is associated with a doubling of the incidence of dementia. A comprehensive study of the SERM, raloxifene, on cognitive function showed no significant effect. There are no definitive reported studies investigating tamoxifen and none for AIs on cognitive function, although there is one in progress in the context of the IBIS II prevention trial which compares anastrozole to placebo in women at high risk. At present concerns about deleterious vascular side effects are confined to HRT and SERMs. However, we have few long-term data using AIs for the treatment and prevention of breast cancer.
CitationVascular effects of aromatase inhibitors: data from clinical trials. 2005, 95 (1-5):143-9 J. Steroid Biochem. Mol. Biol.
JournalThe Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
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