Dr. Patricia Ganz on Anastrozole versus Tamoxifen Side Effects in DCIS Patients

Patricia Ganz, MD

Patricia Ganz, MD, UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, discusses a study comparing anastrozole versus tamoxifen in patients with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).

The study looked at post-menopausal hormonal receptor-positive patients with DCIS who were planned to be treated with lumpectomy and radiation. Patients received either anastrozole or tamoxifen for 5 years. In a trial presented at the 2015 ASCO Annual Meeting, it was shown that there was a statistically significant advantage to anastrozole versus tamoxifen in terms of preventing breast cancer recurrence. This advantage was only seen in those patients under 60 years of age, says Ganz.

A quality of life study, presented at the 2015 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, showed that, overall, both drugs were tolerable and did not cause a decline in physical or mental health. However, each drug had specific side effects that patients and oncologists will need to consider before selecting one over the other, says Ganz. With tamoxifen, patients reported an increase in hot flashes and gynecological symptoms like vaginal discharge and itching. With anastrozole, patients reported an increase in muscular and skeletal pain, as well as vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse.

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