Bone biomarker

Strong link between bone biomarkers and prostate cancer survival

New study led by UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center could improve outcomes for common cancer found in 1 in 8 men


Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death in American men. Understanding the factors that influence patient outcomes is critical for improving treatment and survival rates.

Research led by UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center reveals a link between bone metabolism biomarkers and survival in men with newly diagnosed hormone-sensitive prostate cancer (HSPC) who received androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). The work was published in European Urology.

Asian American man with dark hair, wearing a bow tie
Primo “Lucky” Lara, Jr., director of UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, led the prostate cancer study

The study analyzed results from a SWOG Cancer Research Network Phase 3 trial of nearly 1,000 patients on ADT, including some who were also on the novel hormonal therapy Orteronel. Patients participating in the trial came from 248 academic and community centers throughout the country.

Bone biomarkers for both bone loss and bone formation were measured in HSPC patients enrolled in the trial.

The researchers found that elevated bone biomarkers were associated with an increased risk of death. Bone biomarkers have been found to influence overall survival in men with castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), but have not been fully established for HSPC. CRPC is a prostate cancer that continues to grow even when testosterone levels are greatly reduced.

“Our findings show that high levels of bone turnover biomarkers are associated with a shorter lifespan in men newly diagnosed with metastatic HSPC,” said UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center Director Primo “Lucky” Lara Jr. “In the future, knowing one’s bone biomarker status could improve how we predict patient outcomes and enhance treatment considerations for men with HSPC.”

Managing bone health during prostate cancer treatment 

A finely balanced interaction between cells that rebuild bone and cells that destroy bone is common in men with advanced prostate cancer. These men often present with skeletal metastasis, a common source of bone pain and fracture that can affect their survival.

In addition, men with metastatic HSPC are typically treated with ADT, which disrupts bone turnover and contributes to the development of bone diseases such as osteopenia and osteoporosis. Previous studies have shown that elevated levels of blood-based biomarkers of bone turnover predict survival in men with CRPC and bone targeted therapy may help patients with highly elevated markers.

“This study takes a similar look at bone turnover biomarkers in men with advanced or metastatic HSPC who are initiating ADT as part of a large phase 3 clinical trial,” said co-author and UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center clinical scientist Mamta Parikh. She is also the cancer center’s director of genitourinary malignancies. “Ultimately, our findings add to the growing understanding of the complex interplay between cancer and bone metabolism, which will also help us design of future clinical trials.”


Other contributors to the study included Edward Mayerson, Catherine Tangen and Michael LeBlanc from the SWOG Statistical Center, Seattle; Erik Gertz and Marta van Loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Western Human Nutrition Research Center, Davis; Amir Goldkorn and David I. Quinn from the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles; Maha Hussain with the Northwestern University, Chicago; Shilpa Gupta with the Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland; Jingsong Zhang with Moffit Cancer Institute, Tampa Bay; Przemyslaw Twardowski with St. John’s Cancer Institute, Providence Health, Santa Monica; Nicholas J. Vogelzang with Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, Las Vegas; Ian Thompson with Christus Santa Rosa Health System, TX Health, San Antonio and Neeraj Agarwal with Huntsman Cancer Institute, Salt Lake City.

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center serving the Central Valley and inland Northern California, a region of more than 6 million people. Its specialists provide compassionate, comprehensive care for more than 100,000 adults and children every year and access to more than 200 active clinical trials at any given time. Its innovative research program engages more than 240 scientists at UC Davis who work collaboratively to advance discovery of new tools to diagnose and treat cancer. Patients have access to leading-edge care, including immunotherapy and other targeted treatments. Its Office of Community Outreach and Engagement addresses disparities in cancer outcomes across diverse populations, and the cancer center provides comprehensive education and workforce development programs for the next generation of clinicians and scientists. For more information, visit