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, 30 (6), 763-75

Osteopenia and Osteoporosis in Women With Breast Cancer


Osteopenia and Osteoporosis in Women With Breast Cancer

Bhuvaneswari Ramaswamy et al. Semin Oncol.


Osteopenia and osteoporosis are prevalent in women. Epidemiologic studies show that the risk of breast cancer is greater in postmenopausal women with higher bone mineral density (BMD). Standard treatments for breast cancer such as adjuvant chemotherapy or hormonal therapy can increase bone loss, and hence may increase the risk of osteoporosis. Premenopausal women treated with standard adjuvant chemotherapy frequently develop permanent ovarian failure, or early menopause. Ovarian failure is associated with accelerated bone loss, and bisphosphonates may mitigate this bone loss in women treated with adjuvant chemotherapy. Tamoxifen preserves BMD in postmenopausal women; however, in premenopausal women tamoxifen may increase bone loss. Anastrazole, an aromatase inhibitor, is approved for adjuvant treatment of postmenopausal women with early-stage, estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. With a follow-up duration of less than 5 years, anastrazole-treated women experience increased fractures relative to those treated with tamoxifen. The management of osteopenia and osteoporosis in women with breast cancer generally does not differ from women without breast cancer. Adequate dietary calcium and vitamin D intake, encouraging weight-bearing exercise, and counseling about the relationship between smoking and alcohol and bone loss are all prudent recommendations for overall health and may lessen bone loss and the risk of subsequent osteoporosis. BMD should be measured in women with chemotherapy-induced ovarian failure, and in those on aromatase inhibitors. Bisphosphonates reduce the bone loss associated with chemotherapy-induced ovarian failure, and clinical trials evaluating third-generation bisphosphonates in women with chemotherapy-induced ovarian failure are underway. As many women with breast cancer will be long-term survivors, increasing recognition of maintaining skeletal health is important.

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