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OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to examine women's experiences with oral and intravenous (i.v.) bisphosphonate therapy, the impact that treatment had on bone pain and Quality of Life (QoL), and their preferences if choice were available between oral and i.v. administration. METHODS: This was a prospective study of women with metastatic breast cancer receiving either oral or i.v. bisphosphonate therapy. Semi-structured interview techniques and QoL questionnaires were employed. Participants in the study were interviewed three times, once in person and twice by telephone. RESULTS: A total of 79 patients from eight UK hospitals participated in the study; 35 were receiving oral bisphosphonate medication and 44 i.v. treatments. Self-reported adherence to oral therapy was good although 21% had chosen not to take their drugs at some time. Most had adapted their lifestyle to accommodate oral therapy with 29/37(74%) completely satisfied. However 9/37(24%) expressed dissatisfaction with constraints especially the time required to stand upright after taking their tablets. By 6 months 23/25 (91%) of patients receiving (i.v.) therapies were generally satisfied with the frequency and 22/25 (88%) with the convenience especially if given concurrently with chemotherapy. Overall 25/54 (46%) patients reported improved bone pain scores on the validated FACT-BP scale from baseline to 6 months. CONCLUSIONS: Both oral and i.v. therapies have disadvantages but were acceptable to most patients some of whom had reduced bone pain over time. More data regarding acceptability, adherence, and patients' preference for bisphosphonate therapies are required. Until randomised trials demonstrate superior efficacy for one mode of bisphosphonate therapy over another, we suggest offering patients a choice of bisphosphonate therapy.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





755 - 761


Administration, Oral, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Analysis of Variance, Bone Neoplasms, Breast Neoplasms, Chi-Square Distribution, Diphosphonates, Female, Humans, Infusions, Intravenous, Interviews as Topic, Medication Adherence, Middle Aged, Neoplasm Metastasis, Patient Preference, Prospective Studies, Surveys and Questionnaires