Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Pain. 1998 Dec;78(3):157-69.

The role of bisphosphonates in the treatment of painful metastatic bone disease: a review of phase III trials.

Author information

  • 1Pain Therapy and Palliative Care Division, National Cancer Institute, Milan, Italy.


Metastatic bone disease is a frequent cause of morbidity in advanced cancer patients with a subsequent high incidence of skeletal complications (fractures, hypercalcemia, spinal cord compression) and severe pain. The osteolytic process is mainly characterized by an osteoclastic activity of bone resorption and inflammatory activity provoked by various cytokines and prostaglandins. Bisphosphonates represent a new class of drugs with inhibitory activity on bone resorption and on inflammatory processes which revealed themselves to be efficacious in a series of clinical conditions such as tumour-induced hypercalcemia, Paget's disease, osteoporosis and metastatic bone disease. The aim of this review of the literature is to show the analgesic efficacy of the different bisphosphonates in phase III studies carried out on patients with metastatic bone disease. Medline and Cancerlit database from January 1984 to February 1998 have been considered. From the analysis of the published studies it appears that bisphosphonates and, in particular, intravenous Disodium Pamidronate, are not only able to slow down the progression of the disease and to reduce the onset of skeletal complications but also have an analgesic effect and the possibility of improving the quality of life, above all in patients with osteolytic metastases due to breast cancer and multiple myeloma. Bisphosphonates represent a further valid therapy to add to an already consolidated list of therapies such as radio, chemo and endocrine therapy, analgesic drugs, orthopaedic and physiatric in the pain management of patients with bone metastases. These drugs meet with the patients' compliance, are well-tolerated as well as having a good cost/efficacy profile. It still remains to be seen if the newer and more potent bisphosphonates such as Ibandronate and Zoledronate can be administered differently from the intravenous route such as by mouth or by patch which are readily accepted by the patient and, moreover, if these more potent drugs are able to prevent or delay the onset and/or the progression of bone metastases.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk