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Bone drug suppresses wandering tumor cells in breast cancer patients
Date:6/2/2010

r received a combination treatment of chemotherapy and zoledronic acid.

After three months of therapy, patients with DTCs in their bone marrow decreased from 43 percent to 30 percent in the combination group, compared with a decrease from 48 percent to 47 percent in the control group. This result approached statistical significance.

The researchers also found that of those patients who had no DTCs in their bone marrow at the start of the study, 87 percent remained negative after three months of combination treatment compared to 60 percent of those who received chemotherapy alone, a result that was statistically significant.

Zoledronic acid treatment with chemotherapy had additional benefits. Women in the combination group experienced significant gains in bone density after 12 months. This is helpful for breast cancer patients, who often develop osteoporosis as a side effect of chemotherapy and other breast cancer treatments.

The study also suggested that zoledronic acid may help fight certain types of breast tumors directly. Aft speculates that the drug may stop the tumor from making its own blood supply, modify the immune system in a way that makes it harder for tumor cells to survive or even cause the cancer cells to commit suicide.

"Although it's common practice to administer zoledronic acid during chemotherapy given after breast cancer surgery, it isn't common when chemotherapy is given before surgery," Aft says. "Because chemotherapy increases bone loss, we would argue that women should receive zoledronic acid at the time of chemotherapy in the presurgical setting. Our single-institutional study also suggests that similar protocols using zoledronic acid for high-risk breast cancer patients should continue to be tested in larger, multi-institutional studies."


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Contact: Gwen Ericson
ericsong@wustl.edu
314-286-0141
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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