Purpose: The role of zoledronic acid (ZOL), a bone-targeted bisphosphonate, in the treatment of patients with breast cancer remains an active area of study. Here, we report the long-term outcomes of a randomized placebo-controlled phase II clinical trial in which ZOL treatment was added to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in women with locally advanced breast cancer. Methods: 120 women with clinical stage II–III (≥ T2 and/or ≥ N1) newly diagnosed breast cancer were randomized to receive either 4 mg intravenous ZOL every 3 weeks for 1 year (17 total doses) beginning with the first dose of neoadjuvant chemotherapy, or chemotherapy alone. Clinical endpoints included time to recurrence (TTR), time to bone recurrence (TTBR), time to non-bone recurrence (TTNBR), breast cancer survival (BCS) and overall survival (OS). Results: With a median follow-up interval of 14.4 years, there were no significant differences in any of the clinical endpoints studied between the control and ZOL groups in the overall study population. However, ER+/HER2− patients younger than age 45 who were treated with ZOL had significantly worse TTR and TTNBR with a trend towards worse TTBR, BCS and OS (TTR: P = 0.024, HR 6.05 [1.26–29.1]; TTNBR: P = 0.026, HR 6.94 [1.26–38.1]; TTBR: P = 0.054, HR 6.01 [0.97–37.1]; BCS: P = 0.138, HR 4.43 [0.62–31.7]; OS: P = 0.138, HR 4.43 [0.62–31.7]). These differences were not seen in older ER+/HER2− patients or triple-negative patients of any age. Conclusion: Addition of ZOL to neoadjuvant therapy did not significantly affect clinical outcomes in the overall study population but was associated with increased extra-skeletal recurrence and a trend towards worse survival in ER+/HER2− patients younger than age 45. These findings suggest caution when using zoledronic acid in young, premenopausal women with locally advanced breast cancer and warrant further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-144
Number of pages10
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Bisphosphonate
  • Breast cancer
  • Neoadjuvant
  • Premenopausal
  • Zoledronic acid


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