Bone-modulating drugs can be given less often during cancer treatment, reducing side-effects and saving time and money

November 28, 2020

When cancer spreads to the bones, it can cause pain, reduce mobility and increase the risk of fractures. Bone modulating drugs can help, but a new study suggests that to maximize the value of these drugs, it may be better to give them less often.

The innovative pragmatic trial included 263 patients with metastatic breast and prostate cancer. They received in-hospital injections of bone-modulating drugs every four weeks (the traditional schedule) or every 12 weeks.  

As reported in the European Journal of Oncology, patients on the 12-week schedule reported similar quality of life (the primary outcome) compared to those in the four-week schedule. Importantly, the study showed no statistical difference in efficacy of the bone-modulating drugs when they were given less often, and fewer drug side effects.

Oncologists both locally and internationally are now recommending the 12-week schedule based on this and other studies, saving time and money for patients and hospitals. These findings are particularly important during COVID-19 as they reduce hospital visits.

This trial is part of The Ottawa Hospital’s REthinking Clinical Trials (REaCT) program, launched by Dr. Mark Clemons in 2014, together with Dr. Dean Fergusson and others.

Authors: Mark Clemons, Michael Ong, Carol Stober, Scott Ernst, Christopher Booth, Christina Canil, Mihaela Mates, Andrew Robinson, Phillip Blanchette, Anil Abraham Joy, John Hilton, Olexiy Aseyev, Gregory Pond, Ahwon Jeong, Brian Hutton, Sasha Mazzarello, Lisa Vandermeer, Igal Kushnir, Dean Fergusson on behalf of the REaCT investigators.

Core Resources: Ottawa Methods Centre

Funding: This kind of research is possible because of generous support from the community, through The Ottawa Hospital Foundation. Additional support was provided by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Strategy for Patient Oriented Research), Cancer Care Ontario and the Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network. 

The Ottawa Hospital is a leading academic health, research and learning hospital proudly affiliated with the University of Ottawa. 

Media contact
Jenn Ganton