Original Research| Volume 180, P108-116, February 2023

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Does the number of 6-monthly adjuvant zoledronate infusions received affect treatment efficacy for early breast cancer? A sub-study of ABCSG-12

Published:December 31, 2022DOI:


      • Optimal adjuvant bisphosphonate dose and duration in breast cancer is unclear.
      • We evaluated outcomes of early treatment cessation in the ABCSG-12 dataset.
      • Receiving fewer than 7 zoledronate infusions had no significant effect on DFS or OS.
      • Adjuvant bisphosphonate de-escalation in breast cancer must be further studied.



      The widespread adoption of adjuvant bisphosphonate therapy for postmenopausal early breast cancer (EBC) patients was based on results of the Early Breast Cancer Trialist Group (EBCTCG) meta-analysis. Despite multiple regimens evaluated, there was no signal of varying efficacy with type, dose/dose intensity of bisphosphonate administration. We evaluated the effect of early treatment cessation using long-term outcome data from the ABCSG-12 trial.

      Patients and methods

      ABCSG-12 randomized 1803 hormone-receptor positive EBC patients on ovarian suppression between 1999 and 2006 to receive 4 mg zoledronic acid 6-monthly or not (and tamoxifen or anastrozole, 2:2 factorial design). In the current study, we evaluated whether the number of zoledronate infusions had an impact on breast cancer-specific outcomes. We hypothesized that amongst patients who received at least one zoledronate infusion, the number of infusions had no effect on outcomes. Time-to-event endpoints were analysed with Cox models and Kaplan Meier curves starting from a 3-year landmark. BMD analysis was restricted to patients who participated in the BMD sub-study.


      725 patients who received at least one zoledronate infusion were included in the time-to-event analysis. There was no statistically significant difference in disease-free or overall survival in the patients who received ≤6 zoledronate infusions (n = 170) compared to those who received ≥7 zoledronate infusions (n = 555).


      Comparable to efforts to de-escalate treatment duration in metastatic bone disease, there was no evidence to indicate that a reduced number of zoledronate infusions is associated with reduced adjuvant efficacy. Further studies to define optimal regimens of adjuvant bone-targeted therapies are required.


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