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Bone drug is mixed blessing for breast cancer patients
Date:9/26/2011

strogen receptor status, and lymph node involvement. For all other patients, overall five year survival was similar at 86 per cent in the zoledronic acid group and 85 per cent in the control group.

Most surprisingly, it was the recurrence rates outside bone that were most profoundly affected by the zoledronic acid with clear benefit in the postmenopausal women but a possible adverse effect in younger women. The relative risk for developing metastases outside bone during treatment with zoledronic acid was approximately halved in the postmenopausal women compared with the younger patients (p <.001).

The results shed new light on the role that the bones may play in the progress of the disease. The effects on metastasis and recurrence outside bone suggests that the bone marrow is an important sanctuary for tumour cells which can be activated after sometimes many years of dormancy. With help from bone marrow stem cells, these previously dormant tumour cells may then spread via the blood stream to set up metastases at other sites.

Other studies in postmenopausal women and younger women given treatment to induce a menopause with hormone sensitive breast cancer have also indicated benefit for zoledronic acid in early breast cancer.

The AZURE trial is the first study to evaluate the use of zoledronic acid in a broad range of patients. Further data from other similar trials are anticipated later this year.

Professor Robert Coleman said: "The results have shown that zoledronic acid should not be used routinely for the treatment of early breast cancer. However, for those with low levels of female hormones, due either to natural ageing or specific treatments to induce menopause, the approach appears very promising as more women go on to rid themselves of the disease.

"Our findings could mean a major new treatment approach for the tens of thousands of women in the UK who develop breast cancer. We are now investigating the hormo
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Contact: Shemina Davis, Media Relations Officer
shemina.davis@sheffield.ac.uk
01-142-225-339
University of Sheffield
Source:Eurekalert

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