Background: Adjuvant oral tamoxifen (TAM) benefits women with DCIS, but toxicity concerns have limited its acceptance. Transdermal therapy with 4-hydroxy tamoxifen (4-OHT) gel applied to the breast skin is a possible solution. Previous pilot data suggest equivalent anti-proliferative efficacy of TAM and 4-OHT gel, but minimal systemic exposure with transdermal therapy. We report a prospective double blinded randomized phase 2 trial comparing TAM to 4-OHT gel in women with DCIS. Methods: 107 women with estrogen receptor positive (≥10%) DCIS were randomized to TAM (20 mg/day + placebo gel) or 4-OHT gel (2mg 4-OHT gel/breast, bilaterally + oral placebo), for 4-10 weeks prior to surgery. The primary endpoint was reduction in DCIS Ki67 labeling index (LI). Secondary endpoints included the 12-gene DCIS Score assay (Exact Sciences), breast tissue and plasma concentrations of 4-OHT and endoxifen, TAM-responsive circulating proteins, and patient reported symptoms (Breast Eight Symptom Scale). We estimated that 80 evaluable participants would provide 80.5% power to establish non-inferiority of 4-OHT, defined as relative Ki67-LI decline >35% and absolute decline >2.6%, with one-sided 𝛼=0.10. Non-inferiority of 4-OHT gel for Ki67-LI reduction was tested using an ANCOVA model. Statistical comparisons within- and between-arms were calculated with paired t-test and Welch Two Sample t-test, respectively. Results: 72 of 87 women adhered to the protocol, and were evaluable for the primary endpoint (39 TAM and 33 4-OHT gel). Mean treatment duration was 47 days for TAM and 44 days for 4-OHT gel (p=0.2). The median absolute decline in Ki67 labeling index was significant in the oral TAM (-3.7%, p< 0.001) but not in 4-OHT gel arm (-1.3%, p=0.2) (p=0.002). Ki67 results following menopausal stratification also favored the TAM arm: (-1.3%; p=0.06 in 37 premenopausal women and -3.7%; p=0.02 in 35 postmenopausal women). Similarly, DCIS score showed a significantly greater reduction in the TAM (-14, p< 0.001) but not in the 4-OHT gel arm (-4, p=0.1). Tissue 4-OHT concentrations were non-significantly higher in the TAM arm and were similar between superficial and deep sampling locations (superficial 6.1 and 4.2 ng/g for TAM and 4-OHT gel, respectively, p= 0.55; deep 5.7 and 3.8 ng/g, respectively, p= 0.06), whereas plasma 4-OHT concentration was markedly lower in the gel group (2 ng/mL and 0.24 ng/mL for TAM and 4-OHT gel, respectively, P < 0.001). Endoxifen was abundant in plasma (11 ng/mL) and deep tissue (13 ng/g) of the TAM arm, but present in trace amounts in the 4-OHT gel arm (undetectable in plasma and 0.31 ng/g in tissue; p < 0.001). Circulating TAM responsive markers (insulin like growth factor 1, sex hormone binding globulin, von Willebrand factor, and protein S total) and vasomotor symptoms were significantly and unfavorably modulated by TAM, but not by 4-OHT gel therapy. Conclusions: The non-inferiority of transdermal 4-OHT gel to Tam in terms of anti-proliferative effect in DCIS lesions was not demonstrated at the doses used for this study. DCIS Score analysis gave similar results. Tissue 4-OHT concentration in 4-OHT gel and Tam-treated subjects was roughly similar. However, endoxifen exposure was higher with oral TAM therapy and may partially explain the observed differences in major endpoints. In future studies, use of higher 4-OHT gel doses, longer duration of treatment, or different formulation may overcome these.

Citation Format: Oukseub Lee, Xinlei Mi, Yanfei Xu, Luis Blanco, Azza M. Akasha, Kelly Benante, Shanshan Zhang, Carissa LaBoy, Thomas Helland, Melissa Pilewskie, Amy Degnim, Zahraa Al-Hilli, Amanda L. Amin, E Shelley Hwang, Joseph M. Guenther, Simon Steinar Hustad, Demirkan B. Gursel, Masha Kocherginsky, Gunnar Mellgren, Eileen Dimond, Marjorie Perloff, Brandy M. Heckman-Stoddard, Seema Khan. PD15-12 A pre-surgical window trial of oral tamoxifen versus transdermal 4-hydroxytamoxifen gel in women with estrogen receptor positive duct carcinoma in situ (DCIS) [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 2022 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium; 2022 Dec 6-10; San Antonio, TX. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2023;83(5 Suppl):Abstract nr PD15-12.