Calcitonin for metastatic bone pain

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Background: Pain is the most frequent symptom experienced by cancer patients, its intensity dependent on the site of the tumour. Tumours that compromise bone or nervous structures due to the bone destruction process are the most painful. There are several treatments to deal with pain (and other symptoms) caused by bone metastases. The hormone calcitonin has the potential to relieve pain and also retain bone density, thus reducing the risk of fractures. This review is an update of a previously published review in theCochrane Library (2003, Issue 3) which was also updated in 2006 (Issue 3) and in 2011 (Issue 9). Objectives: The main objective of the review is to determine the effectiveness of calcitonin to reduce metastatic bone pain in patients with painful bone metastases. Secondary objectives are to assess the benefits of calcitonin in reducing the incidence of bone complications (hypercalcemia, fractures and nervous compression) and improving patient survival, and to report any adverse effects of the treatment. Search methods: We updated the electronic searches in the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE and EMBASE up to February 2015. We also searched registers of clinical trials in progress up to February 2015. Selection criteria: We included studies if they were randomised, double-blind clinical trials of patients with metastatic bone pain, treated with calcitonin, where the major outcome measure was pain, assessed at four weeks or longer. Data collection and analysis: Two independent review authors performed study selection and data extraction. Only two studies (90 participants) were eligible for inclusion in the review and therefore meta-analysis of the data was not possible. We performed intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis by imputing all missing values as adverse effects. Main results: The overall quality of the evidence was very low. In this update no new studies were identified for inclusion; one additional study was excluded. Of the two small included studies, one study showed a non-significant effect of calcitonin on the number of patients with complete pain relief (risk ratio (RR) 2.50; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.55 to 11.41). The second study provided no evidence that calcitonin reduced analgesia consumption (RR 1.05; 95% CI 0.90 to 1.21) in patients with painful bone metastases. There was no evidence that calcitonin was effective in controlling complications due to bone metastases, for improving quality of life or for patients' survival. Although not statistically significant, a greater number of adverse effects were observed in the groups given calcitonin in the two included studies (RR 3.50; 95% CI 0.77 to 15.88). Authors' conclusions: Current available research evidence is of very low quality and there is a lack of evidence to support the use of calcitonin for managing bone pain from bone metastases. Since the last version of this review, we did not identify any additional studies.




Martinez-Zapata, M. J., Roqué i Figuls, M., Català, E., Roman, Y., & Alonso-Coello, P. (2006, July 19). Calcitonin for metastatic bone pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

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