Antitumor effects and anticancer applications of bisphosphonates.

Gareth Morgan, Allan Lipton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Bisphosphonates are firmly entrenched in the treatment of metastatic bone disease secondary to several tumor types, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, and myeloma. More recently, an emerging body of preclinical and clinical evidence indicates that bisphosphonates might also exhibit antitumor activity. This expanded role for bisphosphonates in the adjuvant setting might have profound clinical implications in many cancer types, particularly in the context of prevention of bone metastasis. Increased understanding of the mechanistic basis of the antitumor effects indicates that these might occur via direct mechanisms such as induction of apoptosis and inhibition of tumor cell adhesion and invasion, as well as indirect mechanisms such as inhibition of angiogenesis. There is also considerable evidence to suggest that nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates might exert additive or synergistic interactions with standard cytotoxic agents. However, mature clinical data with bisphosphonates are limited and, thus far, provide conflicting evidence regarding the antitumor role of bisphosphonates, but have mostly been conducted with first-generation bisphosphonates such as clodronate that are not as effective as next-generation bisphosphonates. Several large randomized clinical trials are ongoing with the next-generation bisphosphonate zoledronic acid to prospectively confirm an antitumor role for bisphosphonates in various tumor types. This review assesses the current body of preclinical and clinical evidence in favor of an antitumor effect of bisphosphonates in different cancer types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S30-40
JournalSeminars in oncology
Volume37 Suppl 2
StatePublished - Oct 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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