Continuous versus intermittent extended adjuvant letrozole for breast cancer: final results of randomized phase III SOLE (Study of Letrozole Extension) and SOLE Estrogen Substudy.

Jerusalem, G; Farah, S; Courtois, A; Chirgwin, J; Aebi, S; Karlsson, P; Neven, P; Hitre, E; Graas, M P; Simoncini, E; Abdi, E; Kamby, C; Thompson, A; Loibl, S; Gavilá, J; Kuroi, K; Marth, C; Müller, B; O'Reilly, S; Gombos, A; ... (2021). Continuous versus intermittent extended adjuvant letrozole for breast cancer: final results of randomized phase III SOLE (Study of Letrozole Extension) and SOLE Estrogen Substudy. Annals of oncology, 32(10), pp. 1256-1266. Elsevier 10.1016/j.annonc.2021.07.017

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Late recurrences in postmenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancers remain an important challenge. Avoidance or delayed development of resistance represents the main objective in extended endocrine therapy (ET). In animal models, resistance was reversed with restoration of circulating estrogen levels during interruption of letrozole treatment. This phase III, randomized, open-label Study of Letrozole Extension (SOLE) studied the effect of extended intermittent letrozole treatment in comparison with continuous letrozole. In parallel, the SOLE estrogen substudy (SOLE-EST) analyzed the levels of estrogen during the interruption of treatment.


SOLE enrolled 4884 postmenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive, lymph node-positive, operable breast cancer between December 2007 and October 2012 and among them, 104 patients were enrolled in SOLE-EST. They must have undergone local treatment and have completed 4-6 years of adjuvant ET. Patients were randomized between continuous letrozole (2.5 mg/day orally for 5 years) and intermittent letrozole treatment (2.5 mg/day for 9 months followed by a 3-month interruption in years 1-4 and then 2.5 mg/day during all of year 5).


Intention-to-treat population included 4851 women in SOLE (n = 2425 in the intermittent and n = 2426 in the continuous letrozole groups) and 103 women in SOLE-EST (n = 78 in the intermittent and n = 25 in the continuous letrozole groups). After a median follow-up of 84 months, 7-year disease-free survival (DFS) was 81.4% in the intermittent group and 81.5% in the continuous group (hazard ratio: 1.03, 95% confidence interval: 0.91-1.17). Reported adverse events were similar in both groups. Circulating estrogen recovery was demonstrated within 6 weeks after the stop of letrozole treatment.


Extended adjuvant ET by intermittent administration of letrozole did not improve DFS compared with continuous use, despite the recovery of circulating estrogen levels. The similar DFS coupled with previously reported quality-of-life advantages suggest intermittent extended treatment is a valid option for patients who require or prefer a treatment interruption.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Haematology, Oncology, Infectious Diseases, Laboratory Medicine and Hospital Pharmacy (DOLS) > Clinic of Medical Oncology

UniBE Contributor:

Rabaglio, Manuela Elena


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Rebeka Gerber

Date Deposited:

22 Feb 2022 15:48

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 16:07

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

breast cancer endocrine therapy estrogen letrozole




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