September 30, 2011

Treating Breast Cancer: No Need for Add-On Drug

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new study suggests adding zoledronic acid to a drug regimen for patients with early stage breast cancer does not improve outcome.

Zoledronic acid is a bisphosphonate that is used to treat osteoporosis and prevent skeletal fractures in patients with some types of cancer. In previous studies, bisphosphonates were shown to prevent or delay cancer metastasis and even reduce rates of recurrence and death.

Researchers randomly assigned 3,360 patients to receive standard adjuvant systemic therapy either with or without zoledronic acid. Zoledronic acid was given every three to four weeks for six doses and then every three to six months to complete five years of treatment.

Results showed, at an average follow-up of 59 months, there were no significant differences between the two groups. Each group had a disease-free survival of 77 percent. Disease recurrence or death occurred in 377 patients in the zoledronic acid group and 375 patients in the control group. Overall survival in the zoledronic acid group was 85.4 percent compared to 83.1 percent in the control group.

Authors of the study conclude: "These findings do not support the routine use of zoledronic acid in the adjuvant management of breast cancer."

SOURCE: New England Journal of Medicine, September  2011