Optimal management of bone metastases in breast cancer patients
MH Wong, N Pavlakis
Department of Medical Oncology, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Abstract: Bone metastasis in breast cancer is a significant clinical problem. It not only indicates incurable disease with a guarded prognosis, but is also associated with skeletal-related morbidities including bone pain, pathological fractures, spinal cord compression, and hypercalcemia. In recent years, the mechanism of bone metastasis has been further elucidated. Bone metastasis involves a vicious cycle of close interaction between the tumor and the bone microenvironment. In patients with bone metastases, the goal of management is to prevent further skeletal-related events, manage complications, reduce bone pain, and improve quality of life. Bisphosphonates are a proven therapy for the above indications. Recently, a drug of a different class, the RANK ligand antibody, denosumab, has been shown to reduce skeletal-related events more than the bisphosphonate, zoledronic acid. Other strategies of clinical value may include surgery, radiotherapy, radiopharmaceuticals, and, of course, effective systemic therapy. In early breast cancer, bisphosphonates may have an antitumor effect and prevent both bone and non-bone metastases. Whilst two important Phase III trials with conflicting results have led to controversy in this topic, final results from these and other key Phase III trials must still be awaited before a firm conclusion can be drawn about the use of bisphosphonates in this setting. Advances in bone markers, predictive biomarkers, multi-imaging modalities, and the introduction of novel agents have ushered in a new era of proactive management for bone metastases in breast cancer.
Keywords: breast cancer, bone metastases, bisphosphonates, denosumab, biomarkers, optimal management
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