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Br J Cancer. 1999 Apr;80(1-2):221-8.

Assessment of bone response to systemic therapy in an EORTC trial: preliminary experience with the use of collagen cross-link excretion. European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer.

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  • 1EORTC, Breast Cancer Cooperative Group, Brussels, Belgium.


This study was designed to evaluate new bone resorption and tumour markers as possible alternatives to serial plain radiographs for the assessment of response to treatment. Thirty-seven patients with newly diagnosed bone metastases from breast cancer, randomized to receive oral pamidronate or placebo tablets in addition to anticancer treatment within the context of a multicentre EORTC trial, who were both assessable for radiographic response in bone and had serum and urine samples collected for more than 1 month were studied. The markers of bone metabolism measured included urinary calcium (uCa), hydroxyproline (hyp), the N-telopeptide cross-links of type I collagen (NTx) and total alkaline phosphatase. The tumour markers measured were CA15-3 and cancer-associated serum antigen (CASA). Before treatment, levels of Ntx, uCa and Hyp were elevated in 41%, 24% and 28% respectively, and CA15-3 and CASA increased in 69% and 50%. For assessment of response and identification of progression, Ntx was the most useful bone marker. All markers behaved similarly in no change (NC) and partial response (PR) patients. There was a significant difference (P < or = 0.05) in Ntx levels (compared to baseline) at 1 and 4 months and in CA15-3/CASA at 4 months between patients with PR or NC and those with progressive disease (PD), and at 4 months between those with time to progression (TP) > 7 and those with TP < or = 7 months. The diagnostic efficiency (DE) for prediction of PD following a > 50% increase in Ntx or CA15-3 was 78% and 62% respectively. An algorithm to predict response to therapy has been developed for future prospective evaluation.

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