A treatment against osteoporosis that uses the biophosphate Zometa has shown to reduce the risk of early breast cancer in pre-menopausal women by 35 percent, a study presented here showed.
The study, unveiled at the 44th annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago, is the first large-scale study (1,800 women) showing the anti-cancer properties of Zometa, a drug produced by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, which contains zoledronic acid.
This category of medicine is already being used against bone metastasis -- the spread of cancer to the bones -- and osteoporosis, a disease that leads to bone loss.
"It's very exciting to find that in addition to preventing bone loss in women undergoing adjuvant endocrine therapy for breast cancer, zoledronic acid can also reduce the likelihood that breast cancer will return in some women," said Michael Gnant, a professor at the Medical University of Vienna.
"This large clinical trial demonstrates that the antitumor activity of adjuvant zoledronic acid improves outcomes beyond the effect of endocrine therapy alone," Gnant said at a press conference.
"Future research will focus on optimizing the administration schedule and the dose, and determining which patients will benefit the most from treatment with zoledronic acid," Gnant said.
If a second round of clinical tests confirms the results, oncologists believe that Zometa could be used to fight other types of cancer that present high risks of bone metastasis, such as kidney cancer.