Quality-Adjusted Survival in a Crossover Trial of Letrozole Versus Tamoxifen in Postmenopausal Women with Advanced Breast Cancer
<i>Background:</i> Results from a phase III study of postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer demonstrated longer time to disease progression for patients taking letrozole versus tamoxifen. This analysis compares the trade-offs between progression-free survival and toxicity. <i>Design:</i> Quality-adjusted survival was calculated using Q-TWiST (quality-adjusted time without symptoms or toxicity). Survival curves were partitioned into three health states: toxicity (TOX), disease progression (PROG) and periods without toxicity or disease progression (TWiST). The utility-weighted sum of the health state durations was derived and compared. <i>Results:</i> There was not a significant difference in mean duration of serious adverse events prior to progression between the letrozole (n=453) and tamoxifen (n=454) groups (2.2 and 2 months, respectively). For TWiST, the mean duration for letrozole was 11.5 months, versus 8.5 months for tamoxifen (P <0.001). The mean duration of PROG was 11.5 months for letrozole and 12.7 months for tamoxifen (P=0.047). Using utility weights of 0.5 for TOX and PROG resulted in a 2.5-month difference in quality-adjusted survival favoring letrozole (P <0.0001). <i>Conclusions:</i> The longer time to disease progression with letrozole versus tamoxifen was achieved without increased time with adverse events and resulted in more quality-adjusted survival for patients on letrozole.