September 1st 2003
Bisphosphonates have an established role in treating tumor-inducedhypercalcemia and decreasing the incidence of skeletal-related events.Recent data suggest that these agents may also prevent skeletal metastases.This review explains how cancer metastasizes to bone and howbisphosphonates may block this process, with a summary of clinicaltrials supporting the use of bisphosphonates to treat and prevent bonemetastases. For skeletal metastases in patients with breast cancer,multiple myeloma, or other solid tumors, bisphosphonates are importantadjuncts to systemic therapy. Despite promising results in metastaticprostate cancer, additional trials are needed before bisphosphonatesbecome part of standard treatment in this setting. Ongoing trials areevaluating the preventive role of the third-generation bisphosphonatesin breast cancer patients. Until the results of these trials are presented,bisphosphonates should only become a component of adjuvant treatmentin the context of a clinical trial. Bone loss, a common consequenceof cancer treatment, should be treated with the usual measures indicatedfor the management of osteoporosis, including bisphosphonates.