Good To The Bone

Lung cancer with bone metastasis survival longer with denosumab than zoledronic acid

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) When lung cancer starts to spread, it often goes to the bone. This is the site of metastasis (spread) for other cancers as well. A comparison of bone medications found one to be superior.

Researchers found denosumab, sold under the brand name of Xgeva, was more effective than zoledronic acid (Zometa) in prolonging the lives of people with lung cancer.

More than 800 lung cancer patients in this study received either a monthly injection of denosumab or intravenous (in vein) infusion of zoledronic acid (ZA).

Research participants were also encouraged to take both daily calcium and vitamin D supplements.

"Learn about the drugs you’re taking."

People who received denosumab lived longer without the disease progressing than did people who were given zoledronic acid. Patients treated with denosumab lived a median of 1.2 months longer than those who took ZA.

In people with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), denosumab was associated with a 1.5 month difference over ZA.

In terms of overall survival, patients with small-cell lung cancer who were treated with denosumab lived 7.6 months compared to 5.1 months for those in the ZA group.

Denosumab-treated patients with squamous cell carcinoma lived 2.2 months longer than those given ZA. Similar results were seen in patients with another type of lung cancer called adenocarcinoma.

The study authors wrote, “In summary, in this post hoc exploratory analysis of a large subgroup of patients with lung cancer and bone metastases, denosumab treatment was associated with significantly improved overall survival compared with ZA.”

A monthly dose of denosumab is approximately $1,650, while ZA costs about $844 per dose given every 3-4 weeks.

The study was published in the December 2012 issue of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer's (IASLC) Journal of Thoracic Oncology.

This study was funded by Amgen, Inc., the maker of denosumab. Several of the authors disclosed having financial ties with Amgen, Astra Zeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer and Roche. Two of the researchers are Amgen employees.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 19, 2012
Last Updated:
November 21, 2012