Down but Not Out

Breast cancer survivors may be prone to hip fractures in middle age

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Breast cancer survivors may be prone to hip fractures once they hit middle age, according to a study from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

A combination of early menopause caused by breast-cancer treatment and the drugs that are used to treat the cancer may weaken bones and leave women susceptible to fractures in the hip, which are normally uncommon for those under 70.

Researchers looked at six women who had been fought breast cancer and suffered a hip fracture and found a majority of the women did not have osteoporosis. However a quick change in bone architecture resulting from chemotherapy, early menopause and adjuvant therapy may not show up on bone mineral density tests, according to study author Beatrice Edwards, M.D.

All of the women, perimenopausal at the time of their fractures, had early-stage breast cancer. They were each treated with lumpectomy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy approximately one to four years before the fracture occurred.

Edwards said the prevention of cancer treatment-induced bone loss is important to consider in cancer survival, even though most women who have recovered from breast cancer can expect to be fully cured from the disease.

Researchers hope to conduct a clinical trial next and give bone-density screenings to women before they enter chemotherapy.

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Review Date: 
February 3, 2011
Last Updated:
February 3, 2011