Bone metastases are a common complication in patients with advanced lung cancer, and most patients with bone metastases from lung cancer develop skeletal-related events (SREs). Skeletal-related events adversely impact patient quality of life and clinical outcome and are associated with increased costs of clinical management, underscoring the need for SRE prevention. Because current practice guidelines do not recommend pretreatment bone scans for all patients at initial presentation, skeletal involvement is not detected in a proportion of patients with early stage asymptomatic bone metastases. In addition, there are no uniform guidelines outlining treatment for patients with bone metastases. Although many bisphosphonates have not been investigated in this setting, zoledronic acid has proven efficacy in delaying the onset and reducing the risk of SREs in patients with bone metastases from lung cancer. Further, recent exploratory analyses in patients with bone metastases from solid tumors suggest that, in addition to normalizing biochemical markers of bone metabolism, zoledronic acid may improve survival in specific patient subsets, including those with lung cancer. Accordingly, several prospectively designed clinical trials assessing anticancer activity of zoledronic acid in the adjuvant setting are ongoing. New insights into the clinical relevance of bone-conserving therapy in patients with lung cancer are discussed.
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