The aromatase inhibitors exemestane and anastrozole are approved in Japan for first-line treatment of postmenopausal patients with advanced, hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. This phase 3, randomized, double-blind study directly compared time to progression (TTP) for exemestane and anastrozole therapy in this patient population. Eligible patients were randomized to receive exemestane 25 mg or anastrozole 1 mg, each once daily. The primary endpoint was TTP based on assessment by an expert radiologic images review committee (ERIRC). Secondary endpoints included investigator-assessed TTP, time to treatment failure, overall survival, objective response rate, clinical benefit rate, and safety. A total 298 patients were randomized to receive exemestane (n = 149; mean age 63.4 years) or anastrozole (n = 149; mean age 64.0 years). Median ERIRC-assessed TTP was 13.8 and 11.1 months (hazard ratio = 1.007; 95 % confidence interval [CI]: 0.771, 1.317) and median investigator-assessed TTP was 13.8 and 13.7 months (hazard ratio = 1.059; 95 % CI: 0.816, 1.374) in the exemestane and anastrozole arms, respectively. Median overall survival was 60.1 months in the anastrozole arm and was not reached in the exemestane arm at data cutoff. The objective response rate was 43.9 % (95 % CI: 35.3, 52.8) and 39.1 % (95 % CI: 30.6, 48.1) in the exemestane and anastrozole arms, respectively. Treatment-related adverse events grade ≥3 occurred in 9.4 and 6.0 % of patients, and treatment-related serious adverse events occurred in 4.0 and 3.4 % of patients in the exemestane and anastrozole arms, respectively. In this study, the efficacy and safety profiles of exemestane were similar to those of anastrozole in Japanese patients with advanced, hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer; however, TTP non-inferiority of exemestane versus anastrozole was not confirmed.
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