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This Week in Lancet Oncology: Mar 14, 2012

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In Lancet Oncology this week, a team of US researchers report on the effect of estrogen therapy on breast cancer incidence and mortality in postmenopausal women who've had a hysterectomy. The team randomly assigned 10,739 such women to receive either oral conjugated equine estrogen or placebo. After a median follow up of 11.8 years, the team found that the use of estrogen for a median of 5.9 years was associated with a lower incidence of invasive breast cancer compared with placebo. "In subgroup analyses, we noted breast cancer risk reduction with estrogen use was concentrated in women without benign breast disease or a family history of breast cancer," the authors write. "In the estrogen group, fewer women died from breast cancer compared with controls. … Our findings provide reassurance for women with hysterectomy seeking relief of climacteric symptoms in terms of the effects of estrogen use for about 5 years on breast cancer incidence and mortality."

Also in Lancet Oncology this week, an international team of researchers assess the quality of life of patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer given pemetrexed maintenance treatment. The team randomly assigned 663 patients with advanced lung cancer who had already gone through platinum-based induction therapy to receive either pemetrexed or placebo. "Quality of life during maintenance therapy with pemetrexed is similar to placebo, except for a small increase in loss of appetite, and significantly delayed worsening of pain and haemoptysis," the researchers write. "In view of the improvements in overall and progression-free survival noted with pemetrexed maintenance therapy, such treatment is an option for patients with advanced non-squamous NSCLC who have not progressed after platinum-based induction therapy."

Finally in Lancet Oncology this week, a team of European researchers assess the efficacy and safety of erlotinib in patients with advanced, non-small-cell lung cancer with poor prognosis. The team randomly assigned lung cancer patients to receive either erlotinib or chemotherapy. After a median follow-up of 27.9 months in the erlotinib group and 24.8 months in the control group, the team found that median overall survival was 5.3 months with erlotinib and 5.5 months with chemotherapy. "No significant differences in efficacy were noted between patients treated with erlotinib and those treated with docetaxel or pemetrexed," the team says. "Since the toxicity profiles of erlotinib and chemotherapy differ, second-line treatment decisions should take into account patient preference and specific toxicity risk profiles."

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