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Acta Oncol. 2007;46(5):581-91.

The use of bisphosphonates in cancer patients.

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Medical Oncology Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Skeletal-related events resulting from bone metastases or osteoporosis can significantly contribute to morbidity and mortality in cancer patients. Expert opinion on the effectiveness of bisphosphonates in this setting is evolving. Here we review current evidence on the risks and benefits of bisphosphonate therapy for a wide variety of cancers, as well as clinical management of its adverse effects. A MEDLINE search of English-language literature (1966 through May 2006) was conducted using the terms bisphosphonate, cancer, multiple myeloma, malignancy, and randomized controlled clinical studies. Studies were selected based on clinical pertinence, with an emphasis on phase III clinical trials. We reviewed bibliographies for other relevant articles. Accumulating evidence reveals that bisphosphonate therapy has a significant effect in preventing skeletal complications in multiple myeloma, breast cancers, and prostate cancer, and in reducing skeletal complications in other metastatic bone malignancies. Emerging data indicate that bisphosphonates are useful for preventing bone loss resulting from cancer or its therapy. The efficacy of bisphosphonates for early-stage breast cancers remains controversial. Significant risks of bisphosphonate therapy include nephrotoxicity, electrolyte abnormalities, and osteonecrosis of the jaw. Bisphosphonate therapy has a clear role in the management of skeletal metastases associated with a variety of cancers. However, significant side effects require ongoing monitoring and treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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