Skip to content

    Breast Cancer Health Center

    Font Size

    Bone Drug vs. Breast Cancer

    Zometa Plus Chemo Shrinks Breast Cancer Tumors More Than Chemo Alone
    WebMD Health News

    Dec. 11, 2008 (San Antonio) - Adding the bone-building drug Zometa to chemotherapy shrinks breast tumors better than chemo alone, researchers report.

    Zometa is currently used to help prevent the bone loss associated with some cancer treatments. "But in the last two years, there's been a suggestion that it may reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence as well," says Robert Coleman, MD, professor of medical oncology at the University of Sheffield in England.

    He and colleagues put the drug to the test in 205 women with breast cancer. Prior to surgery to remove their tumors, half were given chemo and half were given chemo plus Zometa. The study was sponsored by Novartis AG, which makes Zometa.

    Tumors shrank to 20.5 millimeters in size in the Zometa group, compared with 30 millimeters in the chemotherapy-alone group. "And even after the analysis took into account other factors that can affect tumor size (such as whether the tumor is fueled by hormones), there was still a better response with Zometa," Coleman tells WebMD.

    Also, tumors completely disappeared in 11% of women on Zometa vs. 6% of women given chemo alone.

    As a result, fewer women given Zometa required a mastectomy rather than breast-conserving surgery to remove their tumor, he says. About three-fourths of women in the chemotherapy group underwent a mastectomy vs. two-thirds in the combination group.

    "This is the first evidence in humans that this drug may have a direct anticancer effect," Coleman says.

    Claudine J. Isaacs, MD, director of the breast cancer program at Lombardi Cancer Center in Washington, D.C., says the findings suggest a new use for Zometa in fighting breast cancer.

    If confirmed in larger, longer studies, "we should consider giving Zometa for its antitumor effects alone," she tells WebMD.

    The research was presented at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

    Aromatase Inhibitors vs. Tamoxifen

    Also at the meeting, researchers reported new evidence that postmenopausal women with early breast cancer fare slightly better if they are treated with newer drugs called aromatase inhibitors than if they are given standard hormone therapy.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    Breast Cancer Overview
    From mammograms to living after treatment.
    Dealing with breast cancer
    Get answers to your questions.
    woman having mammogram
    The 3 latest tips to know.
    woman undergoing breast cancer test
    Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
    Resolved To Quit Smoking
    Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
    Woman getting mammogram
    Screening Tests for Women
    serious woman
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    what is your cancer risk
    breast cancer survivors