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Volume 16, Issue 3 (May 2014) 16, 341–347; 10.4103/1008-682X.122591

Bone targeted therapies for the prevention of skeletal morbidity in men with prostate cancer

Philip J Saylor

Division of Hematology-Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Correspondence: Dr. Philip J Saylor (psaylor@partners.org)

Received: 23 September 2013; Revised: 30 October 2013; Accepted: 30 October 2013


Men with prostate cancer suffer substantially from bone-related complications. Androgen deprivation therapy itself is a cause of loss of bone mineral density and is associated with an increased incidence of osteoporotic fractures. In advanced disease, bone is by far the most common site of metastasis. Complications of bone metastases prominently include pain and the potential for skeletal events such as spinal cord compression and pathologic fractures. Elevated osteoclast activity is an important aspect of the pathophysiology of both treatment-related osteoporosis and skeletal complications due to metastases. The osteoclast is therefore a therapeutic target. Denosumab is a fully human monoclonal antibody to receptor activator of nuclear factor-κ-B ligand that was designed to potently inhibit osteoclast activity and is the central focus of this review. Bisphosphonates, radiopharmaceuticals and systemically-active hormonal agents such as abiraterone acetate and enzalutamide have each been shown to improve skeletal morbidity in specific clinical situations. Denosumab is the only agent that has been shown to prevent osteoporotic fractures in men receiving androgen deprivation therapy and at elevated risk for fracture. It has also demonstrated superiority to the potent bisphosphonate zoledronic acid for the prevention of skeletal-related events in men with castration-resistant prostate cancer metastatic to bone. Efficacy and toxicity data will be discussed.

Keywords: denosumab; osteoporosis; osteopenia; osteoclast; RANK (receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappa B); skeletal-related events

Keywords: denosumab; osteoporosis; osteopenia; osteoclast; RANK (receptor activator of nuclear factor‑kappa B); skeletal‑related events

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