Background: Bisphosphonates are thought to act through the osteoclast by changing bone microenvironment. Previous findings of adjuvant clodronate trials in different populations with operable breast cancer have been mixed. The National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) protocol B-34 aims to ascertain whether oral clodronate can improve outcomes in women with primary breast cancer.
Methods: NSABP B-34 is a multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in 3323 women with stage 1-3 breast cancer. After surgery to remove the tumour, patients were stratified by age, axillary nodes, and oestrogen and progesterone receptor status and randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to either oral clodronate 1600 mg daily for 3 years (n=1662) or placebo (1661). The primary endpoint was disease-free survival, analysed by intention to treat. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00009945.
Findings: Median follow-up was 90·7 months (IQR 82·7-100·0) and 3311 patients had data for this period. Disease-free survival did not differ between groups (286 events in the clodronate group vs 312 in the placebo group; hazard ratio 0·91, 95% CI 0·78-1·07; p=0·27). Moreover, no differences were recorded for overall survival (0·84, 0·67-1·05; p=0·13), recurrence-free interval (0·83, 0·67-1·04; p=0·10), or bone metastasis-free interval (0·77, 0·55-1·07; p=0·12). Non-bone metastasis-free interval was slightly increased with clodronate (0·74, 0·55-1·00; p=0·047). Analyses in women age 50 years or older on study entry showed benefits of clodronate for recurrence-free interval (0·75, 0·57-0·99; p=0·045), bone metastasis-free interval (0·62, 0·40-0·95; p=0·027), and non-bone metastasis-free interval (0·63, 0·43-0·91; p=0·014), but not for overall survival (0·80, 0·61-1·04, p=0·094). Adherence to treatment at 3 years was 56% for the clodronate group and 60% for the placebo group. Grade 3 or higher liver dysfunction was noted in 23 of 1612 patients in the clodronate group and 12 of 1623 patients in the placebo group; grade 3-4 diarrhoea was noted in 28 patients in the clodronate group and in ten in the placebo group. There was one possible case of osteonecrosis of the jaw in the clodronate group.
Interpretation: Findings of NSABP B-34 suggest that bisphosphonates might have anticancer benefits for older postmenopausal women. A meta-analysis of adjuvant bisphosphonate trials is suggested before recommendations for use in non-osteoporotic postmenopausal women with primary breast cancer are made.
Funding: National Cancer Institute, Bayer Oy (formerly Schering Oy).
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.