Endocrine therapy in metastatic breast cancer.
Endocrine therapy represents a mainstay of effective, minimally toxic, palliative treatment for metastatic breast cancer. Research focusing on the mechanism of action of endocrine agents will provide new insights leading to new hormonal approaches in breast cancer treatment. Development of new agents, especially the 'pure' antiestrogens, is of great interest. Combining endocrine therapy with biologic agents, especially antiproliferative compounds, may lead to more effective treatment in the adjuvant as well as the advanced setting. Tables 4 and 5 summarize response rates to the different groups of endocrine agents used in metastatic breast cancer and doses of commonly used agents, respectively. At present, tamoxifen is the drug of choice as first-line endocrine therapy for metastatic breast cancer with no or minimal symptoms in premenopausal or postmenopausal women. Second-line therapy usually consists of megace. Aromatase inhibitors may be used as second- or third-line therapy in postmenopausal women. In premenopausal women, LHRH analogues are a reasonable choice. The other hormonal agents may be beneficial as salvage therapy. More effective endocrine approaches are under development.
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