Osteoporosis drug could help cancer patients, study shows

10 October 2011

Cancer treatment can lead to weakening of the bones, but a new study suggests that a drug used for osteoporosis could help with the side effect.

The study, published in the journal Cancer, indicates that some breast cancer patients could take zoledronic acid in addition to their anti-cancer medications to maintain bone health.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute looked at significant increases in bone density throughout five years of the study in women who initiated zoledronic acid at the start of breast cancer treatment. They found that decreases in bone density occurred when zoledronic acid administration was delayed until bone loss was apparent.

Some 602 post-menopausal women with early breast cancer who were receiving the aromatase inhibitor letrozole were randomised to receive zoledronic acid simultaneously with letrozole or only after bone loss or fractures occurred.

Adam Brufsky, who led the research, said: "This study shows that bone loss from aromatase inhibitors can be prevented long term with a safe and effective drug that prevents osteoporosis."

Further side effects of cancer treatment can include tiredness, hair loss or thinning, a sore mouth, diarrhoea, changes to periods and sore eyes.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

Brufsky, A. et al., "Erratum: Immunohistochemical Surrogate Markers of Breast Cancer Molecular Classes Predicts Response to Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy", Cancer, November 2010.


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