The use of bisphosphonates in palliative treatment of bone metastases in a terminally ill, oncological elderly population

Arch Gerontol Geriatr. Sep-Oct 2006;43(2):187-92. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2005.10.006. Epub 2005 Dec 2.


According to the guidelines of WHO [WHO, 1999. Cancer Pain and Palliative Care Program. Cancer Pain Release, vol. 13], the term terminally ill patient refers to oncological patients whose life expectancy is lower than 90 days, and the index of their physical state (defined as the Karnofsky Index) is below 50. The terminally ill oncological patients are treatable with the palliative cures, representing a treatment system aimed at improving the quality of life (QOL) of both the patient and the family members, decreasing the physical and psychical sufferance of the patient. The present study followed 35 terminally ill oncological patients with bone metastases, at their homes, for the University of Catania. These patients had previously been followed by the Local Sanitary Unit (ASL 3) of Catania, and established a life expectancy not longer than 3 months. Independently from the basic neoplastic disease resulting in the bone metastases, all the patients were treated with sodium clodronate (SC) intravenously, 300 mg every second day, in order to decrease the bone pains. The visual analogue scale (VAS) for pain relief, the autonomy (IADL) and autosufficiency (ADL, Barthel Index) were evaluated after 1, 3, and 6 months of treatment. The results indicate an overall significant improvement both in the pain symptoms and the QOL. Also the compromised autonomy and autosufficiency of this population seemed to be improved, at least as compared to the predicted and expected results at the start of this trial, and also compared to the relevant literature. One can conclude that the i.v. application of 300 mg of SC every other day produced a significant pain reduction and improved the QOL, and helped in maintaining the actual autonomy and autosufficiency. On this basis we suggest the use of this compound in the given type of terminally ill patients.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / administration & dosage
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bone Neoplasms / complications
  • Bone Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Clodronic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Clodronic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Quality of Life
  • Survival Analysis
  • Terminally Ill*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Clodronic Acid