Surgical issues surrounding use of aromatase inhibitors

J Michael Dixon, Lorna Renshaw, Juliette Murray, E Jane Macaskill, Oliver Young, William R Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There are important surgical issues related to the use of the third generation aromatase inhibitors in both the neoadjuvant and adjuvant settings. Neoadjuvant hormone therapy is effective at downstaging tumours, particularly large tumours initially thought to be inoperable or requiring mastectomy. Randomised trials have shown that the newer aromatase inhibitors letrozole and anastrozole increase the numbers of women who are suitable for breast-conservation compared with tamoxifen, and that letrozole is superior to tamoxifen in terms of clinical response. Aromatase inhibitors are most effective in ER-rich tumours and are clinically and biologically effective in both HER2 positive and negative tumours, whereas HER2 positive tumours show a level of resistance to tamoxifen. In neoadjuvant studies comparing aromatase inhibitors with tamoxifen, the duration of use has been 3-4 months, by which time any response is usually evident but longer treatment periods produce continued shrinkage and response. The re-excision rate following breast conservation surgery after neoadjuvant hormone therapy is favourable compared with the rates following immediate wide local excision. Local recurrence rates are acceptable in patients undergoing neoadjuvant therapy and breast-conserving surgery providing post-operative radiotherapy is given. Adjuvant aromatase inhibitors, as well as having an effect on metastatic disease and survival, reduce local and regional recurrence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-103
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number1-5
Publication statusPublished - May 2005


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Aromatase Inhibitors
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Receptor, erbB-2
  • Treatment Outcome


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