What is the role of hormone therapy in the adjuvant treatment of breast cancer?

Updated: May 21, 2019
  • Author: Erin V Newton, MD; Chief Editor: Neetu Radhakrishnan, MD  more...
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Answer

Answer

In estrogen receptor (ER)–positive early-stage breast cancer, hormone therapy plays a main role in adjuvant treatment, either alone or in combination with chemotherapy. Hormone treatments function to decrease estrogen's ability to stimulate existing micrometastases or dormant cancer cells.

Adjuvant hormone therapy can reduce the relative risk of distant, ipsilateral, and contralateral breast cancer recurrence by up to 50% in tumors with high ER expression. FDA-approved endocrine therapies for adjuvant treatment of breast cancer include tamoxifen and the aromatase inhibitors (anastrozole, letrozole [Estroblock], exemestane [Aromasin] [36] ).


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