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According to an article recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, bone sialoprotein may help identify patients with non–small cell lung cancer who are at a high risk for developing bone metastases.

Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. In advanced NSCLC cancer spreads to distant sites from its origin.

One site of cancer spread is to the bone, a condition referred to as bone metastases. There is no known curative therapy for bone metastases. Therefore, the ability to identify patients at high risk of developing bone metastases may allow physicians to use novel therapies to potentially reduce the risk of cancer spreading to the bone. Another option is to carefully monitor the patient for bone metastases so that treatment for the condition may begin immediately.

Researchers from Italy recently conducted a clinical study to evaluate potential “markers” that may be used to identify patients at a high risk of developing bone metastases. This study included 30 patients with NSCLC who had their cancer surgically removed and subsequently developed bone metastases, 30 patients with NSCLC whose cancer was surgically removed but showed no signs of bone metastases, and 26 patients with NSCLC that was surgically removed and had cancer spread to distant sites in the body but not the bone. Cancer that was initially removed was tested for markers to try to identify patients at risk for developing bone metastases.

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  • Bone sialoprotein (BSP) was the only maker identified as a strong predictor of a high risk of bone metastasis, overall survival, and the length of time before cancer spread would develop.
  • Bone sialoprotein was detected in 80% of patients who subsequently developed bone metastasis, compared with only 20% of patients who did not develop metastasis, and 30% of patients who had metastasis but not cancer spread to the bone.

The researchers concluded that although further study is necessary to confirm these findings, BSP may help identify patients with NSCLC who have a high risk of developing bone metastasis. These patients may ultimately benefit from novel therapeutic approaches to help prevent the development of bone metastasis.

Reference: Papotti M, Kalebic T, Volante M, et al. Bone Sialoprotein Is Predictive of Bone Metastases in Resectable Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer: A Retrospective Case-Control Study. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2006; 24: 4818-4824.

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