The role of disodium pamidronate in the management of bone pain due to malignancy

L. Groff, E. Zecca, F. De Conno, C. Brunelli, R. Boffi, C. Panzeri, M. Cazzaniga, C. Ripamonti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A number of controlled studies have recently demonstrated the role of disodium pamidronate in the prevention of skeletal complications in patients with metastatic bone disease due to breast cancer and multiple myeloma. They have also shown that it relieves pain and is well tolerated. The aim of this open prospective study was to evaluate the acceptability of a new schedule of pamidronate infusion and to assess pain, analgesic consumption and the Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) in patients with metastatic bone pain treated with pamidronate in association or not with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and hormone therapy. Patients with different types of cancer and at least one painful bone metastasis were treated with two cycles of 60 mg intravenous (iv) pamidronate weekly for three consecutive doses, with a 3-week interval between the two cycles (six infusions over 7 weeks), followed by one infusion every 3 weeks for a total of 24 infusions. Two hundred patients were enrolled in the study, of whom 94 received at least the first six infusions; 25 patients received all 24 infusions. Pamidronate was well tolerated in the majority of the patients both during the first six infusions and during the whole study period. In the patients under study, pain intensity decreased compared with T0 after the first two infusions (second week of treatment). The mean equivalent daily dose of oral morphine required ranged from 21.5 to 41.5 mg/day and was low and stable during the study. For the patients who remained in the study, the KPS remained around 70 during the whole treatment period and intrasubject analysis showed a substantial stability of the KPS within each subject. A first fracture occurred within 321 days in 25% of the whole population under study. Pamidronate represents a further valid therapy to add to an already consolidated list of therapies such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and orthopaedic intervention in the pain management of patients with bone metastases. Future studies are necessary to evaluate the role of pamidronate and the appropriate schedule in patients with advanced or terminal cancer who are no longer being treated with oncological therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-307
Number of pages11
JournalPalliative Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001



  • Advanced cancer patients
  • Bone metastases
  • Disodium pamidronate
  • Pain
  • Palliative treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Nursing(all)

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