Pathological features of breast cancer response following neoadjuvant treatment with either letrozole or tamoxifen

W R Miller, J M Dixon, L Macfarlane, D Cameron, T J Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Morphological characteristics, grading features, proliferation marker MIB1, apoptosis (by Tdt-mediated duTP-biotin nick-end labelling (TUNEL)), Bcl-2 expression, oestrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PgR) status were compared in ER-positive breast cancers before and after 3 months of neoadjuvant therapy with either letrozole or tamoxifen. Daily treatment was with letrozole 2.5 mg (12 patients) or 10 mg (12 patients), or with tamoxifen 20 mg(24 patients). Letrozole treatment was associated with a pathological response in 17 of 24 (71%) patients. The predominant change in grading features was a decrease in mitosis, and the expression of MIB1 was reduced in all of the 22 evaluable cases. Whilst only marginal changes were observed in ER expression following letrozole therapy, PgR reactivity was reduced in 20 of 21 evaluable cases which were initially PgR-positive, becoming undetectable in 16 patients. Tamoxifen treatment was associated with pathological response in 15 of 24 (63%) tumours. In contrast to letrozole, the dominant change in grading feature was an increase in tubule formation, ER score was markedly reduced in most cases, and the most common effect on PgR was an increased expression. Following treatment with either tamoxifen or letrozole, variable effects were observed on the apoptotic index and expression of Bcl-2. These results indicate that both letrozole and tamoxifen have marked influences on the pathological features of breast cancer during neoadjuvant therapy. However, the effects of the two agents varied such that the phenotypes of letrozole- and tamoxifen-treated tumours differ markedly. Effects on clinical, pathological and biological endpoints were frequently disconcordant--future studies will therefore require the evaluation of multiple parameters in order to fully assess tumour response.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-8
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean journal of cancer (Oxford, England : 1990)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2003

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Apoptosis
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Cell Division
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Nitriles
  • Postmenopause
  • Tamoxifen
  • Triazoles


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