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Bone Drug Lowers Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence
Date:5/31/2008

Zometa, used to treat osteoporosis, showed no unanticipated side effects, researchers report

SATURDAY, May 31 (HealthDay News) -- A drug used to treat osteoporosis lowered the risk of breast cancer recurrence in premenopausal women with early breast cancer.

The Austrian researchers also found that women who took Zometa (zoledronic acid) had a 30 percent lower risk of the cancer spreading to the bone, with other benefits as well.

"We found not only an effect on bone metastases, which one might have anticipated, but also on local regional recurrence, distant bone metastases and contralateral breast cancer," said study author Dr. Michael Gnant, a professor of surgery at the Medical University of Vienna. "The indication is that zoledronic acid exerts a benefit through a variety of mechanisms which, all together, create a tumor-hostile environment..."

Gnant, who presented his findings this weekend at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago, spoke at a Saturday news conference. The trial was partially supported by Novartis, which makes Zometa.

Earlier studies had indicated that Zometa can reduce bone loss occurring as a result of cancer treatment, and that it might also have an effect on the cancer itself.

For this trial, researchers randomized 1,803 patients to one of four arms: hormone therapies tamoxifen or Arimidex (anastrozole, an aromatase inhibitor), with or without Zometa.

Tamoxifen stops estrogen from reaching cancer cells while Arimidex interferes with actual production of estrogen. The hormone estrogen fuels breast cancer cells in estrogen-receptor positive tumors.

All patients were undergoing drug-induced ovarian suppression (to stop production of estrogen), had had surgery to remove the primary tumor, and had seen the cancer spread to 10 or fewer lymph nodes. Treatment lasted three years.

After a median follow-up of five years, e
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