Background:Estrogens have important roles in ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast. However, the significance of presurgical aromatase inhibitor treatment remains unclear. Therefore, we examined intratumoral concentration of estrogens and changes of clinicopathological factors in DCIS after letrozole treatment.Methods:Ten cases of postmenopausal oestrogen receptor (ER)-positive DCIS were examined. They received oral letrozole before the surgery, and the tumour size was evaluated by ultrasonography. Surgical specimens and corresponding biopsy samples were used for immunohistochemistry. Snap-frozen specimens were also available in a subset of cases, and used for hormone assays and microarray analysis.Results:Intratumoral oestrogen levels were significantly lower in DCIS treated with letrozole compared with that in those without the therapy. A great majority of oestrogen-induced genes showed low expression levels in DCIS treated with letrozole by microarray analysis. Moreover, letrozole treatment reduced the greatest dimension of DCIS, and significantly decreased Ki-67 and progesterone receptor immunoreactivity in DCIS tissues.Conclusion:These results suggest that estrogens are mainly produced by aromatase in DCIS tissues, and aromatase inhibitors potently inhibit oestrogen actions in postmenopausal ER-positive DCIS through rapid deprivation of intratumoral estrogens.