Health Discoveries in Breast Cancer

Breast cancer treatment may raise risk of hip fractures

February 7, 2011
Although generally uncommon in women under age 70, middle-aged breast cancer survivors may be at a greater risk for hip fractures, according to the February issue of Clinical Cancer Research.

Research that was done at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago suggests the effects of breast cancer drugs and the early onset of menopause caused by treatment may weaken women's bones at middle age.

The study focused on six breast cancer survivors in their early 50s who did not have osteoporosis and were being treated for hip fractures. However, they did have osteopenia, or lowered bone mineral density, that may be caused by cancer treatment and early menopause, but isn't detected by bone testing.

Four of the six women had cancer therapy that included aromatase inhibitors, which prevent the body from making estrogen and have been linked to possible bone loss in women.

A clinical trial under way within the North Shore-LIJ Health System is trying to determine if hormonal therapy with letrozole, an aromatase inhibitor, that lasts beyond five years will reduce recurring breast cancer.
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