Bone turnover markers as predictors of skeletal complications in prostate cancer, lung cancer, and other solid tumors

Janet E Brown, Richard J Cook, Pierre Major, Allan Lipton, Fred Saad, Matthew Smith, Ker-Ai Lee, Ming Zheng, Yong-Jiang Hei, Robert E Coleman
Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2005 January 5, 97 (1): 59-69

BACKGROUND: Whether bone markers have prognostic value in patients with bone metastases is unknown. We investigated this question in patients with bone metastases secondary to prostate cancer and to non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and other solid tumors assigned to the placebo arms of two phase III trials of zoledronic acid.

METHODS: Levels of the urinary bone resorption marker N-telopeptide and the serum bone formation marker bone-specific alkaline phosphatase were assessed every 3 months for patients with prostate cancer (n = 203) or NSCLC or other solid tumors (n = 238) and were categorized as low or high. Patients were monitored for skeletal-related events, bone disease progression, and death. The relative risks (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for these outcomes were estimated for patients with high versus low levels of each marker using intensity-based multiple event and Cox regression models. All statistical tests were two-sided.

RESULTS: In each disease group and overall, high levels of each marker at the beginning of the study were statistically significantly associated with an increased risk of negative outcomes. Use of recent marker assessments as time-dependent covariates gave even greater prognostic significance. High N-telopeptide levels were a stronger prognostic indicator of negative outcomes than bone-specific alkaline phosphatase levels. In recent assessments, patients with high N-telopeptide levels had an increased relative risk of skeletal-related events (prostate cancer, RR = 3.25, 95% CI = 2.26 to 4.68, P<.001; NSCLC and other solid tumors, RR = 1.79, 95% CI = 1.15 to 2.79, P = .010), disease progression (prostate cancer, RR = 2.02, 95% CI = 1.48 to 2.74, P<.001; NSCLC and other solid tumors, RR = 1.91, 95% CI = 1.16 to 3.15, P = .011), and death (prostate cancer, RR = 4.59, 95% CI = 2.82 to 7.46, P<.001; NSCLC and other solid tumors, RR = 2.67, 95% CI = 1.85 to 3.85, P<.001) compared with patients with low N-telopeptide levels.

CONCLUSIONS: Baseline and recent bone marker levels were predictive of negative clinical outcomes in patients with bone metastases secondary to prostate cancer and to NSCLC and other solid tumors. N-telopeptide levels were more consistent prognostic indicators than bone-specific alkaline phosphatase for all tumor types, reflecting the key role of osteolysis in the development of skeletal complications.

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