Breast cancer

07 February 2011

Breast cancer treatment may lead to hip fracture

Middle-aged breast cancer survivors face an increased risk for hip fractures, a condition normally uncommon in women younger than 70, a new study has found.


Middle-aged breast cancer survivors face an increased risk for hip fractures, a condition normally uncommon in women younger than 70, a new study has found.

Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago say that this may be because early menopause caused by breast cancer treatment and the effects of breast cancer drugs could weaken the bones by the time women reach middle age.

The finding came from a study of six women who had survived breast cancer and, in their early 50s, were being treated for hip fractures.

Most of the women did not have osteoporosis, but they did have lower-than-normal bone mineral density (osteopenia).

Rapid changes in bones

This suggests that rapid changes in bone architecture caused by chemotherapy, early menopause and adjuvant breast cancer therapy may not be detected on a bone mineral density test, said Dr Beatrice Edwards, an associate professor of medicine and orthopedic surgery and director of the bone health and osteoporosis program Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, who led the research.

The women had been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, and their treatments had included lumpectomy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy with cytoxan and adriamycin for one to four years before they broke a hip. All of the women were perimenopausal at the time of the fracture.

In four of the women, their breast cancer had grown in response to oestrogen, and their cancer therapy had included aromatase inhibitors to prevent their bodies from making oestrogen. Recent research has linked aromatase inhibitors with possible bone loss in women.

"Although the majority of women with breast cancer can expect to be fully cured from the disease, the prevention of cancer treatment-induced bone loss is important to consider in cancer survival," Edwards said in a university news release.

"More research needs to be done before treatment guidelines are changed, but greater awareness of the adverse effects of certain breast cancer drugs is needed," she added.

(HealthDay News, February 2011)

Read more:

A new life after breast cancer

Decoding breast cancer


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Breast cancer expert

Dr Gudgeon qualified in Birmingham, England, in 1968. She has more than 40 years experience in oncology, and in 1994 she founded her practice, Cape Breast Care, where she treats benign and malignant breast cancers. Dr Boeddinghaus obtained her qualification at UCT Medical School in 1994 and her MRCP in London in 1998. She has worked extensively in the field of oncology and has a special interest in the hormonal management of breast cancer. She now works with Dr Gudgeon at Cape Breast Care. Read more.

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