In about one-third of advanced breast cancers, estrogen deprivation causes tumor regression. Estrogen concentrations in tumor tissue seem to depend largely on local production. The aromatase enzyme complex is thought to be the key enzyme in this respect. In the present study, the effect of the new third-generation nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitor vorozole (Rivizor) on tumor tissue aromatase activity and estrogen concentrations was evaluated. During 7 days preceding mastectomy, 11 postmenopausal breast cancer patients were treated with 2.5 mg of vorozole once daily. Eight patients could be evaluated. Intratumoral aromatase activity and estrone and estradiol levels were measured and compared to the values of nine untreated postmenopausal breast cancer patients. In treated patients, median tissue aromatase activity was 89% lower than that in controls (P < 0.001). Similarly, median tissue estrone and estradiol concentrations were 64 and 80% lower, respectively, in treated patients (P = 0.001 and P < 0.05, respectively). These results support the hypothesis that depleting the tumor of estrogens, thus impairing estrogenic stimulation, is an important mechanism in the antitumor activity of aromatase inhibitors.

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