Cochrane Summaries

Trusted evidence. Informed decisions. Better health.

Bisphosphonates for the relief of pain secondary to bone metastases

Wong RKS, Wiffen PJ
Published Online: 
7 October 2009

Bisphosphonates give some relief from pain caused by cancer that has invaded bones. Patients with cancer that has spread to the bone frequently have pain. Pain control is an important part of cancer management. Bisphosphonates are medicines that affect the way bone develops, and are proving useful in treating patients with cancer that has invaded the bone (metastasis). This review looked at the effect of bisphosphonates on pain caused by bone metastases. Bisphosphonates do have some effect but are not as useful as either strong analgesics (such as morphine) or radiotherapy. However, where other methods of pain relief are inadequate, the addition of bisphosphonates can be beneficial. Bisphosphonates can cause nausea and vomiting.