Background: Data suggest that the adjuvant use of bisphosphonates reduces rates of recurrence and death in patients with early-stage breast cancer. We conducted a study to determine whether treatment with zoledronic acid, in addition to standard adjuvant therapy, would improve disease outcomes in such patients.
Methods: In this open-label phase 3 study, we randomly assigned 3360 patients to receive standard adjuvant systemic therapy either with or without zoledronic acid. The zoledronic acid was administered every 3 to 4 weeks for 6 doses and then every 3 to 6 months to complete 5 years of treatment. The primary end point of the study was disease-free survival. A second interim analysis revealed that a prespecified boundary for lack of benefit had been crossed.
Results: At a median follow-up of 59 months, there was no significant between-group difference in the primary end point, with a rate of disease-free survival of 77% in each group (adjusted hazard ratio in the zoledronic acid group, 0.98; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.85 to 1.13; P=0.79). Disease recurrence or death occurred in 377 patients in the zoledronic acid group and 375 of those in the control group. The numbers of deaths--243 in the zoledronic acid group and 276 in the control group--were also similar, resulting in rates of overall survival of 85.4% in the zoledronic acid group and 83.1% in the control group (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.72 to 1.01; P=0.07). In the zoledronic acid group, there were 17 confirmed cases of osteonecrosis of the jaw (cumulative incidence, 1.1%; 95% CI, 0.6 to 1.7; P<0.001) and 9 suspected cases; there were no cases in the control group. Rates of other adverse effects were similar in the two study groups.
Conclusions: These findings do not support the routine use of zoledronic acid in the adjuvant management of breast cancer. (Funded by Novartis Pharmaceuticals and the National Cancer Research Network; AZURE Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN79831382.).