Penn State University, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, College of Medicine, 500 University Drive, Hershey, PA 17033, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patients with advanced breast cancer who develop bone metastases suffer an ongoing risk of skeletal complications that can have a significant impact on their quality of life (QoL). These complications include bone pain, pathologic fractures, spinal cord compression, and hypercalcemia of malignancy (HCM), a potentially life-threatening condition. Treatment options include radiotherapy to palliate bone pain and/or prevent impending fracture, orthopedic surgery to prevent or repair fractures, analgesics, and bisphosphonates, which can significantly reduce the risk of skeletal complications and delay their onset. Of the known bisphosphonates, zoledronic acid is the most potent. Since its regulatory approval in the United States and Europe in 2001, zoledronic acid (4 mg by 15-minute infusion) has become widely used and has replaced pamidronate (90 mg by 2-hour infusion) as the standard of care for treating bone metastases from breast cancer and bone lesions from multiple myeloma. Zoledronic acid has also demonstrated significant long-term benefits in randomized trials in prostate cancer and other solid tumors, whereas other bisphosphonates have failed. In long-term, phase III clinical testing, zoledronic acid provided significant treatment benefits beyond those of pamidronate in patients with breast cancer and demonstrated a safety profile comparable with pamidronate. Therefore, zoledronic acid is now recommended from the first diagnosis of bone metastasis. Other intravenous bisphosphonates include clodronate and ibandronate. Both are approved in Europe, but their efficacy relative to pamidronate and zoledronic acid is not known.
Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2005 Mar;6(2):161-71.