Zometa’s Survival Benefit Confirmed

Women receiving a supportive care drug to reduce bone loss caused by breast cancer treatment may actually be getting more than that—improved survival and lower risk of metastatic recurrence.

Women receiving a supportive care drug to reduce bone loss caused by breast cancer treatment may actually be getting more than that—improved survival and lower risk of metastatic recurrence.

A seven-year follow-up confirmed that the bisphosphonate Zometa (zolendronate) improves survival and delays disease progression in postmenopausal women with early-stage breast cancer. Zometa is currently approved for reducing skeletal-related complications in metastatic breast cancer.

Investigators learned that women with early-stage, hormone-positive breast cancer who received anastrozole and Zometa for three years lowered their absolute risk of recurrence by about 4 percent and death by about 2 percent. The benefit appeared to be greatest in women over 40 who were postmenopausal. Side effects were minimal, but no cases of kidney failure or osteonecrosis of the jaw (a rare but serious side effect) were reported.

“It’s reassuring that when we target the microenvironment rather than the tumor cells themselves, we can make a difference, and it lasts long term,” says Michael Gnant, MD, of the Medical University of Vienna in Austria, during the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

While the results are positive, it is unknown whether U.S. doctors will adopt the new regimen. The women in the trial did not receive adjuvant chemotherapy—a standard of care for women with early-stage breast cancer in the U.S. For women who are treated in this fashion, however, it could represent a new standard. “It’s appropriate therapy for women who fulfill criteria in this study,” says James N. Ingle, a breast specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.