Background: There is significant heterogeneity in survival of patients with metastatic breast cancer who have bone-only metastasis. We studied the correlation of serum N-telopeptide (NTx), a marker of bone resorption, and its correlation with clinical outcomes in patients with metastatic breast cancer with bone-only or bone plus soft tissue metastasis. Patients and methods: Serum was taken from 250 metastatic breast cancer patients with bone-only or bone plus soft tissue metastasis who participated in two similar randomized studies of second-line hormone therapy. An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay specific for NTx of type I bone collagen was used to detect serum levels. Results: Sixty patients (24%) had elevated serum NTx levels, using the mean + 2 standard deviations (26 nanomoles Bone Collagen Equivalents per liter) of healthy women as a cut-off. The median duration of clinical benefit was significantly shorter in the group with elevated serum NTx levels compared with the group that had normal serum NTx levels (P = 0.0004). Time to progression (TTP) was also significantly shorter in the patients with elevated serum NTx at 139 days compared with 220 days (P = 0.0006). Median survival was also significantly shorter in patients with elevated baseline serum NTx levels at 663 days compared with 941 days (P <0.0001). Conclusion: In this study, breast cancer patients with bone-only or bone plus soft tissue metastasis and elevated serum NTx levels have a shorter duration of clinical benefit, TTP and overall survival.
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