BackgroundBreast cancer molecular prognostic tools that predict recurrence risk have mainly been established on endocrine-treated patients and thus are not optimal for the evaluation of benefit from endocrine therapy. The Stockholm tamoxifen (STO-3) trial which randomized postmenopausal node-negative patients to 2-year tamoxifen (followed by an optional randomization for an additional 3-year tamoxifen vs nil), versus no adjuvant treatment, provides a unique opportunity to evaluate long-term 20-year benefit of endocrine therapy within prognostic risk classes of the 70-gene prognosis signature that was developed on adjuvantly untreated patients.
MethodsWe assessed by Kaplan-Meier analysis 20-year breast cancer-specific survival (BCSS) and 10-year distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS) for 538 estrogen receptor (ER)-positive, STO-3 trial patients with retrospectively ascertained 70-gene prognosis classification. Multivariable analysis of long-term (20 years) BCSS by STO-3 trial arm in the 70-gene high-risk and low-risk subgroups was performed using Cox proportional hazard modeling adjusting for classical patient and tumor characteristics.
ResultsTamoxifen-treated, 70-gene low- and high-risk patients had 20-year BCSS of 90 and 83%, as compared to 80 and 65% for untreated patients, respectively (log-rank p < 0.0001). Notably, there is equivalent tamoxifen benefit in both high (HR 0.42 (0.21-0.86), p = 0.018) and low (HR 0.46 (0.25-0.85), p = 0.013) 70-gene risk categories even after adjusting for clinico-pathological factors for BCSS. Limited tamoxifen exposure as given in the STO-3 trial provides persistent benefit for 10-15 years after diagnosis in a time-varying analysis. 10-year DMFS was 93 and 85% for low- and high-risk tamoxifen-treated, versus 83 and 70% for low- and high-risk untreated patients, respectively (log-rank p < 0.0001).
ConclusionsPatients with ER-positive breast cancer, regardless of high or low 70-gene risk classification, receive significant survival benefit lasting over 10 years from adjuvant tamoxifen therapy, even when given for a relatively short duration.