A trial looking at zoledronic acid for cancer of the lung lining

Cancer type:

Lung cancer
Non small cell lung cancer
Small cell lung cancer





This trial looked at using zoledronic acid to help reduce the thickening of, and the amount of fluid made by, the lining covering the lung (the pleura).

More about this trial

In some people with cancer, the lining between the lung and the chest wall can become thicker. For others this lining makes extra fluid which collects in the space between the lung and chest wall (pleural effusion). Both of these can cause breathing problems.

Doctors can drain the excess fluid away by putting a tube into the space between the chest wall and the lung. But the space can fill with fluid again. So they may need to keep putting the tube in, or keep it in to drain the fluid away when necessary.

The researchers who did this trial thought that zoledronic acid might help.

The aims of this trial were to find out if zoledronic acid could:

  • shrink the thickening of the lining of the lung
  • reduce the amount of fluid that collects in the space between the lung and chest wall
  • help improve breathing and quality of life Open a glossary item.

Summary of results

The trial team found that having zoledronic acid wasn’t a useful treatment for people with breathlessness caused by excess fluid around the lung.

24 people took part in this trial. They were put into 1 of 2 treatment groups at random.

  • 11 had zoledronic acid
  • 13 had a dummy drug (placebo Open a glossary item)

The researchers:

  • used a number of tools to check how breathless people were after treatment
  • looked at their scan results
  • looked at how they rated their quality of life
  • looked at the side effects

They had the results for 20 people. They found no significant difference between the 2 different groups.

The researchers say that the following factors could have affected these results. The group who had zoledronic acid:

  • were more breathless at the start of the trial
  • had more advanced cancer
  • had a poorer quality of life

They also say that it was the first time zoledronic acid was used for fluid collections around the lungs and only a very small number of people took part.

The researcher concluded that although the treatment didn’t work, there might be possible benefits for certain groups of people. 2 people with pleural mesothelioma Open a glossary item showed a slight benefit from this treatment. But the findings from the study are not good enough to recommend this treatment as an option at present. The research team are currently conducting a feasibility trial in using zoledronic acid for people with mesothelioma who are having chemotherapy.

We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Amelia Clive

Supported by

NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
University of Bristol
North Bristol NHS Trust
UK Medical Ltd

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Charlie took part in a trial to try new treatments

A picture of Charlie

“I think it’s really important that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”

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