BACKGROUND: Adjuvant therapy with an aromatase inhibitor improves outcomes, as compared with tamoxifen, in postmenopausal women with hormone-receptor- positive breast cancer. METHODS: In two phase 3 trials, we randomly assigned premenopausal women with hormone-receptor-positive early breast cancer to the aromatase inhibitor exemestane plus ovarian suppression or tamoxifen plus ovarian suppression for a period of 5 years. Suppression of ovarian estrogen production was achieved with the use of the gonadotropin-releasing-hormone agonist triptorelin, oophorectomy, or ovarian irradiation. The primary analysis combined data from 4690 patients in the two trials. RESULTS: After a median follow-up of 68 months, disease-free survival at 5 years was 91.1% in the exemestane-ovarian suppression group and 87.3% in the tamoxifen-ovarian suppression group (hazard ratio for disease recurrence, second invasive cancer, or death, 0.72; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.60 to 0.85; P<0.001). The rate of freedom from breast cancer at 5 years was 92.8% in the exemestane-ovarian suppression group, as compared with 88.8% in the tamoxifen-ovarian suppression group (hazard ratio for recurrence, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.55 to 0.80; P<0.001). With 194 deaths (4.1% of the patients), overall survival did not differ significantly between the two groups (hazard ratio for death in the exemestane-ovarian suppression group, 1.14; 95% CI, 0.86 to 1.51; P=0.37). Selected adverse events of grade 3 or 4 were reported for 30.6% of the patients in the exemestane-ovarian suppression group and 29.4% of those in the tamoxifen-ovarian suppression group, with profiles similar to those for postmenopausal women. CONCLUSIONS: In premenopausal women with hormone-receptor-positive early breast cancer, adjuvant treatment with exemestane plus ovarian suppression, as compared with tamoxifen plus ovarian suppression, significantly reduced recurrence.
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