Saturday, August 23, 2008

Zoledronic Acid Prevents Bone Loss During Treatment for Breast Cancer

According to a study report from the Austrian Breast and Colorectal Cancer Study Group trial-12 (ABCSG-12), published online August 20 in Lancet Oncology, premenopausal women undergoing breast cancer treatment were able to prevent bone loss when Zolendronic acid was given in conjunction with chemotherapy. The study also reports that bone mineral density improved five years after treatment was discontinued.

Previous studies have shown that Zoledronic acid also prevents early breast cancer relapses, when combined with endocrine therapy. In the current study, designed to measure the effects of the drug on bone mineral density, the researchers also found that even more significant improvements two years after ending treatment.

Michael Gnant, MD, professor of surgery at the Medical University of Vienna and president of the Austrian Breast and Colorectal Cancer Study Group says, "With endocrine therapy for premenopausal women, there is substantial bone loss... this can be corrected with an easy and harmless treatment. We do recommend adjuvant zoledronic acid for the exact patient group described in this trial."

Study participants who received endocrine therapy alone were found to lose 11.3% and 7.3% of baseline lumbar spine and trochanter bone density respectively. Two years after treatment, there was no improvement. However, the women who received zoledronic acid showed improvement in bone density in both areas after 60 months.

The Importance of Strong Bones

Loss of bone density results in osteoporosis. Osteopenia is the term used for decreased bone mass. Bone mineral density tests measure the health of your bones, and are important in measuring a persons’ risk for fracture and injury – a problem that can cause permanent disability.

Risk factors include the use of certain medications, conditions such as anorexia, smoking and alcohol, family history, advancing age, and being Caucasian or Asian.

Though bone mineral density may return in women receiving breast cancer treatment, the author of the current study writes, “Currently, nobody can realistically say what consequence a long-term period of reduced bone-mineral density will have on later bone integrity." Anyone with chronic medical problems may be at risk. Ask your doctor for a bone density test if you have any risk factors or warning signs of bone loss or osteoporosis.

Source: Lancet Oncol. 2008; 9:840-849. Published online August 20, 2008.

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Bone Health for Life