Combining radiation therapy with zoledronate for the treatment of osteo-invasive feline oral squamous cell carcinoma

Alycen P. Lundberg, Christine Tran Hoang, Audrey Billhymer, Kim A. Selting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Feline oral squamous cell carcinoma (FOSCC) is the most common oral tumour diagnosed in pet cats and carries a poor prognosis with <10% one-year survival despite multi-modal therapies. Tumours of the mandible or maxilla are frequently osteo-invasive and pain can result from osteolysis. Zoledronate is a bisphosphonate that inhibits osteoclasts and reduces bone resorption. Radiation therapy (RT) is used to treat FOSCC due to anti-cancer activity and ability to improve quality of life. We hypothesized RT can be safely combined with zoledronate, and that this combinatory therapy would be efficacious, well tolerated, and result in decreased bone resorption in cats with FOSCC. SCCF1 cell line was treated with zoledronate before, concurrently, or after RT, and clonogenic assays were performed to determine if an optimal dosing schedule would be identified. Nine cats with osteoinvasive FOSCC were recruited for treatment with 4 weekly doses of 8 Gy RT combined with zoledronate administered at the first and fourth treatments. Serial CT scans were performed to assess tumour response. Safety and tolerability were monitored with hematologic and biochemical parameters, and acute radiation effects were characterized. Serum c-telopeptide (CTx) and relative bone mineral density (rBMD) by dual -energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) quantified bone resorption. In vitro studies showed no clear benefit to timing of zoledronate with RT, therefore all zoledronate was administered concurrently with RT in FOSCC patients. Based on tumour volume, 4/9 (44.4%) cats achieved partial remission, 4/9 (44.4%) stable disease and 1/9 (11.1%) had progressive disease. The combinatory therapy was well-tolerated based on biochemical measurements, and all patients experienced decreased serum CTx. Combining RT with zoledronate in tumour-bearing cats is safe, well-tolerated, results in a partial remission rate of up to 44%, and decreases serum CTx, a marker of bone resorption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)788-796
Number of pages9
JournalVeterinary and comparative oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • bisphosphonate
  • neoplasia
  • pain relief
  • palliative
  • serum c-telopeptide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


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