SUNDAY, Sept. 25 (HealthDay News) -- The bone drug Zometa, once considered a promising weapon to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence, should not be used routinely in treatment of the disease, researchers say.
In a new study of breast cancer patients, Zometa (zoledronic acid) did not increase disease-free survival overall, and it appeared to raise the risk of a serious side effect, said study co-author Dr. Robert Coleman, a professor of medical oncology at the University of Sheffield in England.
However, "for the one-third of women in the study who had gone fully through menopause at the time of study entry, there is significant benefit in terms of both disease recurrence and overall survival," Coleman added.
The results of the trial, published online Sept. 25 in the New England Journal of Medicine, were slated to be presented Sunday at the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress in Stockholm. Coleman also presented findings from the study at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in late 2010.
Women receiving hormone therapy for breast cancer treatment are prone to weakening and thinning of the bone, a condition known as osteoporosis, so they often receive bone-building drugs known as bisphosphonates. Some previous research had suggested these bone drugs might also help to prevent recurrence of breast cancer.
Zometa, which is delivered intravenously, is also used to relieve pain when cancer spreads to the bone.
In the study, Coleman and his colleagues randomly assigned almost 3,400 patients with early-stage breast cancer to standard therapy or to standard therapy plus Zometa.
The research team looked at overall survival and disease recurrence for an average of nearly 5 years of follow-up. They found no significant differences between the groups. According to the study, 377 patients in the group receiving the bone drug either di
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