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Cancer Treat Rev. 2008 Aug;34(5):453-75. doi: 10.1016/j.ctrv.2008.02.004.

Exploring the anti-tumour activity of bisphosphonates in early breast cancer.

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Academic Unit of Clinical Oncology, Section for Cancer, Cancer Research Centre, University of Sheffield, Weston Park Hospital, Sheffield S10 2SJ, UK.


Bisphosphonates are potent inhibitors of osteoclast-mediated bone resorption and are firmly established in the management of breast cancer patients with metastatic skeletal disease. There are extensive data that bisphosphonates, particularly nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates such as zoledronic acid, exhibit anti-tumour activity potentially via both indirect and direct mechanisms in vitro. In vivo studies using animal models of breast cancer induced bone disease have shown that bisphosphonates exert anti-tumour effects via inhibiting osteolysis and reducing skeletal tumour burden. Furthermore, pre-clinical studies have demonstrated synergistic anti-tumour effects between chemotherapy agents commonly used in breast cancer treatment and nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates. This, coupled with emerging evidence from pre-clinical in vivo studies suggesting that bisphosphonates may have additional anti-tumour activity outside of the bone microenvironment, could be of significant importance in the clinical management of breast cancer. The evidence in favour of an anti-tumour effect of bisphosphonates in the clinical setting is inconclusive however, with conflicting evidence from several trials. This review focuses on the anti-tumour activity of bisphosphonates in breast cancer, with particular focus on zoledronic acid. The pre-clinical evidence for anti-tumour activity will be reviewed, followed by the synergistic effects with anti-cancer agents. Finally, the clinical relevance and strategies for the evaluation of anti-tumour activity in breast cancer will be discussed. We are currently exploring the potential synergistic anti-tumour effects of the sequential treatment of neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by zoledronic acid in a randomised phase II study evaluating biological endpoints including apoptosis, proliferation and angiogenesis in patients with breast cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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