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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Randomized trial of medroxyprogesterone acetate for the prevention of endometrial pathology from adjuvant tamoxifen for breast cancer: SWOG S9630.

  • Author(s): Potkul, Ronald K
  • Unger, Joseph M
  • Livingston, Robert B
  • Crew, Katherine D
  • Wilczynski, Sharon P
  • Salomon, Caryl G
  • Smith, Barbara L
  • Wong, Lucas
  • Campbell, David L
  • Einspahr, David E
  • Anderson, Garnet L
  • Hershman, Dawn
  • Goodman, Gary E
  • Brown, Powel H
  • Meyskens, Frank L
  • Albain, Kathy S
  • et al.

The proliferative effect of adjuvant tamoxifen on the endometrium can potentially result in endometrial abnormalities, including cancer in postmenopausal women. We conducted a randomized, controlled trial to assess endometrial pathological diagnoses in postmenopausal women with early stage, ER-positive breast cancer without endometrial pathology at baseline. They were assigned to tamoxifen alone versus tamoxifen plus cyclical medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA 10 mg for 14 days every 3 months) for 5 years. Endovaginal sonograms (EVS) +/- endometrial biopsies (EMB) were required at baseline, 2 and 5 years. Of 313 patients registered, 296 were eligible and 169 (57%; 89, tamoxifen; 80, tamoxifen+MPA) were evaluable (completed year-2 EVS, with an EMB if stripe width was ⩾5 mm). Sixty (67%) of these in the tamoxifen arm had an endometrial stripe width ⩾5 mm (and underwent subsequent EMB) compared with 48 (60%) in the tamoxifen+MPA arm (P=0.40). There were four cases of proliferative endometrium and one simple hyperplasia on the tamoxifen arm (6% (95% confidence interval (CI): 2-13%) among evaluable patients and one proliferative endometrium on the tamoxifen+MPA arm (P=0.11). The overall fraction with benign endometrial abnormalities at year 2 was 3.6% (6/169; 95% CI: 1.3-7.6%), with only 1 (of 102) new benign proliferative event at year 5. The event rate in both arms was much lower than projected, making treatment arm comparisons less informative. A normal endometrium prior to tamoxifen may provide reassurance regarding future endometrial events. However, validation in a larger trial is needed before changing practice in asymptomatic, postmenopausal women.

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