Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bone Drug Could Help Prevent The Spread Of Breast Cancer

Date:
May 19, 2008
Source:
Washington University School of Medicine
Summary:
Maintaining bone density could be a key to decreasing the spread of cancer in women with locally advanced breast cancer, according to new research. Bones are common sites for the spread, or metastasis, of breast cancer. Scientists have found that women treated for stage II/III breast cancer who also received a bone strengthening drug were less likely to have breast tumor cells growing in their bones after three months.

Maintaining bone density could be a key to decreasing the spread of cancer in women with locally advanced breast cancer, according to research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Related Articles


Bones are common sites for the spread, or metastasis, of breast cancer. Scientists here found that women treated for stage II/III breast cancer who also received a bone strengthening drug were less likely to have breast tumor cells growing in their bones after three months. The bone-strengthening drug used was zoledronic acid, a drug that decreases bone turnover and reduces bone fractures in patients with osteoporosis.

"Tumor cells are continually being released from the primary tumor," says lead author Rebecca Aft, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of surgery, faculty member of the Siteman Cancer Center and a Washington University breast surgeon at Barnes Jewish Hospital. "It is thought that the bone marrow harbors these cells and that these cells are likely to evolve into metastatic disease. We think that zoledronic acid changes the bone marrow so that cancer cells are unable to lodge there."

The researchers randomly assigned 120 women being treated for clinical stage II/III breast cancer to receive 4 milligrams of zoledronic acid intravenously every three weeks for one year, starting with their first cycle of chemotherapy, or to receive no zoledronic acid. Stage II/III cancer means the primary tumor has spread into lymph nodes or other areas near the breast.

At the time of diagnosis, none of the patients had evidence of metastatic disease on computed tomography (CT) and/or positron emission tomography (PET) scans. But bone marrow samples showed that about 40 percent of the patients had detectable breast tumor cells in the bone marrow.

Prior research has shown that women with even minuscule clusters of breast tumor cells -- called micrometastases -- in their bone marrow at the time of their diagnosis have an increased risk of developing large metastatic tumors later.

The researchers took bone marrow samples again three months and one year after treatment began. Only 23 percent of women who got zoledronic acid had tumor cells after three months compared to 36 percent of those who didn't get the drug. This result did not reach statistical significance.

Of women who started with no tumor cells in their bone marrow, 88 percent remained free of tumor cells in their bone marrow if they got zoledronic acid, compared to 70 percent of those who did not receive the drug. This result approached statistical significance. The one-year results are not yet available.

Aft says that women who receive chemotherapy for breast cancer have increased rates of bone turnover, which can release growth factors and produce a favorable environment for cancer cells. The suppression of bone turnover by zoledronic acid or other bisphosphonate drugs could make bones less friendly surroundings for cancer.

"We found that patients who are negative for tumor cells in bone marrow have a very good chance of staying negative if they take zoledronic acid," Aft says. "If longer follow up shows that women without tumor cells in their bones do not go on to develop metastatic disease, then it would be reasonable to say that bisphosphonates will likely benefit women with locally advanced breast cancer."

Aft R, Ylagan L, Watson M, Chavez-MacGregor M, Trinkaus K, Zhai J, Naughton M, Weilbaecher K. Effect of zoledronic acid on bone marrow micrometastases in women undergoing neoadjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer. 2008 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, May 30 - June 2, 2008.

The findings will be reported June 3 at the 2008 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Funding from Novartis and Pfizer Inc. supported this research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington University School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Washington University School of Medicine. "Bone Drug Could Help Prevent The Spread Of Breast Cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080516123827.htm>.
Washington University School of Medicine. (2008, May 19). Bone Drug Could Help Prevent The Spread Of Breast Cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080516123827.htm
Washington University School of Medicine. "Bone Drug Could Help Prevent The Spread Of Breast Cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080516123827.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Newsy (Dec. 21, 2014) Carnegie Mellon researchers found frequent hugs can help people avoid stress-related illnesses. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins