, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 408-418

Bisphosphonates for malignancy-related bone disease: current status, future developments

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This review relates to the efficacy and safety of bisphosphonates in metastatic bone disease. It discusses practical recommendations and possible future indications for bisphosphonate therapy. The current aims of bisphosphonates for metastatic bone disease are to prevent skeletal-related events (SREs), reduce bone pain and improve quality of life. Phase III clinical trials of clodronate and pamidronate have established their efficacy against bone complications in patients with breast cancer and multiple myeloma, while randomized trials have shown SRE reductions with zoledronic acid in patients with breast cancer and multiple myeloma, prostate cancer, and lung and other solid tumors. These bisphosphonates also have some effect on metastatic bone pain. Ibandronate is a new aminobisphosphonate, available in more than 40 countries outside of the US as intravenous and oral formulations for the prevention of skeletal events in patients with breast cancer and bone metastases. Phase III studies have shown that both intravenously and orally administered ibandronate have efficacy for the prevention of skeletal events and for the reduction of metastatic bone pain. In addition to efficacy, the long-term tolerability of bisphosphonates in metastatic bone disease influences drug selection. Besides their use in patients with established bone metastases, recent and ongoing research suggests that bisphosphonates also have clinical benefit in the adjuvant setting, and for the treatment of cancer-treatment-induced bone loss. Such interesting new developments may underpin a new era of bisphosphonate use sometime in the near future.

Professor Body has received honoraria and grant support from Hoffmann-La Roche, and grant support from Novartis.