University of Sussex

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Quality of life in the intergroup exemestane study: a randomized trial of exemestane versus continued tamoxifen after 2 to 3 years of tamoxifen in postmenopausal women with primary breast cancer

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 13:38 authored by Lesley FallowfieldLesley Fallowfield, Judith M. Bliss, Lucy S. Porter, Miranda H. Price, Claire F. Snowdon, Stephen E. Jones, R. Charles Coombes, Emma Hall
PURPOSE: To compare and describe the quality of life (QOL) of women allocated to tamoxifen or exemestane within the Intergroup Exemestane Study (IES). PATIENTS AND METHODS: Postmenopausal women with primary breast cancer who were disease free after 2 to 3 years were randomly assigned to switch from tamoxifen to exemestane or continue with tamoxifen until 5 years of treatment were completed. A subset of IES centers participated in a QOL substudy. The Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast (FACT-B) and endocrine subscale (ES) were administered before random assignment and at predefined follow-up times. The primary end point was the FACT-B composite Trial Outcome Index (TOI). Secondary end points included total FACT-B+ES score, total ES score, and severity of individual endocrine symptoms. This analysis reports QOL up to 24 months. RESULTS: Five hundred eighty-two patients from eight countries were enrolled onto the substudy. Completion and return of questionnaires was excellent, with 85% available for analysis. QOL was generally good and stable over 2 years, with no clinically meaningful differences found between groups in TOI or ES. Prevalence of severe endocrine symptoms at trial entry was high for vasomotor complaints and sexual problems, which persisted for both groups during the study. No significant differences between groups were seen for any endocrine symptoms apart from vaginal discharge, which was more pronounced with tamoxifen (P < .001). CONCLUSION: The switch from tamoxifen to exemestane neither increased nor decreased endocrine symptoms present after 2 to 3 years of tamoxifen; the switch also did not initiate significant reports of new symptoms. Results indicate that the clinical benefits of exemestane over tamoxifen are achieved without significant detrimental effect on QOL.


Publication status

  • Published


Journal of Clinical Oncology




American Society of Clinical Oncology





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Department affiliated with

  • Sussex Health Outcomes Research & Education in Cancer (SHORE-C) Publications

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Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

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