Breast Cancer: Reducing the Pain of Secondary Bone Disease

Armen Hareyan's picture

In a clinical study UHN researchers Drs. Mark Clemons and David Cole were the first to show that introducing a more potent form of a family of drugs called bisphosphonates to breast cancer patients with bone disease progression improves their quality of life.

In 65 to 75% of women with advanced breast cancer their cancer metastasizes, or travels, to their bone. In Canada, patients will usually be treated for this with bisphosphonates. Of the women that develop bone disease, two thirds of them experience a bone-related injury or progression of their bone disease. By switching to a more potent form of bisphosphonate both the quantity and quality of the patient's pain was reduced.


Working with their colleague George Dranitsaris, they correlated the patient's response with differences in substances in their urine samples that are associated with changes in bone. Clinicians could potentially use these data to determine if a patient is going to benefit from a switch in therapy.

"Currently, few innovative treatment strategies exist for women who develop complications from their bone disease despite standard bisphosphonate therapy," says Dr. Clemons. "Our prospective study has paved the way for a larger randomized trial - starting in the next few weeks - to compare the current treatment strategy to the proposed one."

J Clin Oncol. 2006 Oct 20;24(30):4895-900. [Pubmed abstract] Research supported in part by Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and Dairy Farmers of Canada.