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Cancer Treat Rev. 2003 Jun;29(3):189-98.

Pathophysiology of bone metastases from prostate cancer and the role of bisphosphonates in treatment.

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Academic Urology Unit, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.


Metastasis to bone is a common feature in advanced prostate cancer patients. Current treatments, while effective in suppressing tumour growth and relieving tumour associated bone pain, do not provide long term remission or 'cure' for the disease. A greater understanding of prostate cancer metastasis is required if new treatment strategies are to be developed. Growth of tumour foci in skeletal sites is a major cause of morbidity in advanced prostate cancer and has required the development of specialised approaches to treatment, including the use of bisphosphonates. These drugs inhibit tumour induced osteoclastic bone resorption, thereby preventing skeletal related events and treatment induced bone loss. Zoledronic acid is currently the only bisphosphonate with proven benefit in prostate cancer. Bisphosphonates may also modify the bone microenvironment so that it becomes less favourable for the growth and survival of metastases. The most recent developments in our understanding of the advantages for growth and survival gained by metastatic prostate cancer cells in the skeleton are reviewed, along with the clinical evidence supporting the use of bisphosphonates in advanced prostate cancer.

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