Key words Bisphosphonate
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Bisphosphonates are now the standard treatment for tumor-induced hypercalcemia (TIH), and pamidronate can normalize serum Ca in at least 90% of the patients treated for the first time. However, there are few data on the treatment of TIH when it recurs, and published results are contradictory. We studied 29 patients with solid tumors, 14 of whom had breast cancer and all of whom were naive to bisphosphonate therapy. They were retreated with pamidronate (median dose 1 mg/kg for both courses) for recurrence of TIH after a median interval of 78 (range 7–297) days. Fourteen of them, 7 of whom had breast cancer, were treated a third time 28 (range 5–79) days after the second course (median dose of pamidronate 1.5 mg/kg). Baseline Ca levels were not significantly different before each course, but the nadirs after each treatment progressively increased, 9.3±0.2 mg/dl, 10.5±0.3 mg/dl, and 12.3±0.4 mg/dl after the 1st, 2nd and 3rd administrations, respectively (P〈0.05). The percentage of treatment failures also progressively increased: 10%, 31% and 85% (P〈0.05). This decreased hypocalcemic effect was essentially observed in patients without bone metastases or with tumors other than breast cancer. Thus, in patients without bone metastases, Ca levels did not decrease at all after the 3rd course, whereas the responses were not significantly different between the three courses in patients with bone metastases. Baseline urinary hydroxyproline, a marker of bone resorption, increased progressively from course to course, especially in patients with bone metastases or breast cancer, but this was not the case for parameters of bone formation. There was also a progressive increase in PTHrP levels accompanied by an increase in the number of patients with enhanced kidney reabsorption of Ca and a decrease in the threshold for Pi excretion, which was significant in patients without bone metastases. In conclusion, pamidronate was progressively less efficient when hypercalcemia recurred. This was observed mainly in patients with hypercalcemia of humoral origin. Tumor progression is accompanied by an enhanced release of osteolytic factors, notably PTHrP, that increase bone resorption and enhance kidney calcium reabsorption, especially in patients without bone metastases. When both phenomena occur, the response to bisphosphonates becomes minimal and the usefulness of therapy questionable.
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