The use of adrenalectomy and hypophysectomy in the management of postmenopausal patients with metastatic breast carcinoma is reserved for highly selected patients. As an alternate approach, a pharmacologic method of inhibiting adrenal cortical secretion was developed which consisted of the daily administration of 1000 mg of aminoglutethimide to block steroidogenesis and either dexamethasone (2.0-3.0 mg/day) or hydrocortisone (40-60 mg/day) as replacement glucocorticoid. This regimen markedly suppressed plasma levels of DHA-S, androstenedione, estrone, and estradiol, and urinary levels of aldosterone. Of 50 patients treated, 19 (38%) demonstrated either a complete (8/19) or a partial (11/19) objective disease remission which lasted for 18.05 ± 3.1 months (mean ± SEM). In 10 (20%) patients, there was stabilization of disease (7.8 ± 1.2 months), accompanied by symptomatic relief of bone pain in six (12%). There was disease progression in 20 (40%) patients. The acute side effects of aminoglutethimide therapy were significant and consisted of transient lethargy (41.5%) and a cutaneous rash (35.8%). Chronic toxicity was negligible. The medical adrenalectomy regimen of aminoglutethimide plus glucocorticoid offers a suitable alternative to surgical adrenalectomy or hypophysectomy in the management of postmenopausal patients with metastatic breast carcinoma.
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