A trial to see if zoledronic acid can help chemotherapy work better before surgery for breast cancer (ANZAC)

Cancer type:

Breast cancer




Phase 2

This trial was to see if using zoledronic acid with chemotherapy would help treat breast cancer.

Zoledronic acid (Zometa or Zoledronate) is a bisphosphonate. Doctors use bisphosphonates to reduce pain and damage that may happen when cancer spreads to the bones. We knew from laboratory research that zoledronic acid could kill breast cancer cells. Researchers in the laboratory found out that using zoledronic acid and chemotherapy together may kill more cancer cells.

Many of these results were from looking at cancer cells in a laboratory. Researchers wanted to see if adding zoledronic acid to chemotherapy increased the number of cancer cells that die as a result of treatment. This was a pilot study. If researchers saw encouraging results, they would go on to a larger trial. The aim of this trial was to see if adding zoledronic acid to breast cancer chemotherapy helped chemotherapy to work better before surgery.

Summary of results

The trial team found that adding one dose of zoledronic acid to chemotherapy didn’t help it work better.

This was a phase 2 trial. It recruited 40 women. It was a randomised trial. Half the women had one dose of zoledronic acid before their 1st cycle of chemotherapy. The other half didn’t.

The researchers took a small tissue sample (biopsy) from the women’s cancer 5 days after their first cycle of chemotherapy and just before their second cycle.

In the laboratory the researchers looked at the tissue sample and counted the number of dead cells they could see. They found that there was little difference between the 2 groups in the number of cells that had died after the first cycle of chemotherapy.

The researchers also looked at 2 substances (biomarkers Open a glossary item) in the blood that could help them tell how well the chemotherapy was working.

There were minor changes in the 2 biomarkers that indicated the zoledronic acid was having some effect.

The trial team found that adding zoledronic acid to 1 cycle of chemotherapy didn’t help. But they say that changes did happen suggesting that giving zoledronic acid with more cycles of chemotherapy may help and trials with bigger numbers are needed to find this out.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. 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. 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

Professor Robert Coleman

Supported by

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
University of Sheffield

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Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 1712

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

Harriet wanted to try new treatments

Picture of Harriet

“I was keen to go on a clinical trial. I wanted to try new cancer treatments and hopefully help future generations.”

Last reviewed:

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