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Study shows cancer patients benefit from new method of bone analysis


Chicago, IL June 2, 2003 Data on the effectiveness of zoledronic acid for the treatment of bone metastases that stem from various cancer types has contributed to a better understanding of multiple bone complications, according to a study led by Dr Pierre Major, a medical oncologist at McMaster University, and presented on May 31 at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago.

Research indicates many patients with advanced cancer develop bone metastasis, the spread of cancerous cells from the original tumor to bones. Many of these patients are at risk of developing multiple bone complications including bone pain, pathologic fractures, a need for radiation or surgery to their bones, spinal cord compression, and hypercalcaemia.

These painful, debilitating complications can significantly impact the daily lives of patients and caregivers. Understanding the cumulative burden of these bone complications over the entire course of follow-up allows physicians to determine the best treatment options for their patients.

The data confirm superior results from treatment with zoledronic acid infusions on the occurrence of first and subsequent bone complications. The simple graphical summaries of cumulative disease burden, obtained from the new analysis, have direct relevance for health economic considerations.

Dr Major, associate professor of medicine at McMaster University and Dr Richard Cook, University of Waterloo, used a new method to analyze the growing burden of pain and morbidity from bone complications in patients with breast, prostate or lung cancer, or other solid tumors.

The new analysis helps doctors gain insight into the effects of treatment and prevention of the debilitating effects of complications to the bone. This method was adjusted for survival and patient dropout information.

“Metastasis to bone causes significant pain, adversely affects quality of life and substantially raises healthcare costs for patients with a wide range of tumors,” says Dr Major. “As patients live longer, it becomes that much more important for physicians to understand the long-term risks from bone metastases and subsequent complications to help avoid these problems and to manage pain and suffering from these complications that follow.”