Are Oral Bisphosphonates Effective in Improving Lumbar Bone Mineral Density in Breast Cancer Survivors With Osteopenia or Osteoporosis?
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OBJECTIVE: Breast cancer survivors with osteoporosis or osteopenia are commonly encountered in primary care and gynaecology practices. Our objective was to determine whether treatment with oral bisphosphonates (alendronate or cyclic etidronate) was more effective than calcium with vitamin D in improving lumbar spine bone mineral density (BMD) within one year in breast cancer survivors. METHODS: Breast cancer survivors with at least one year of clinical follow-up were identified from the prospective observational Canadian Database of Osteoporosis and Osteopenia (CANDOO). Analysis of covariance was used to examine the effects of bisphosphonate therapy on change in lumbar spine BMD at one year compared with the effects of calcium with vitamin D (analysis adjusted for baseline L2-L4 BMD, current tamoxifen use, number of prevalent vertebral fractures [VFs], and time since diagnosis of breast cancer, and age). RESULTS: Eighteen patients took calcium and vitamin D, 25 took cyclic etidronate, and 27 took oral alendronate. Adjusted one-year BMD increases for alendronate and cyclic etidronate compared to calcium and vitamin D were as follows: alendronate 4.53% (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.26%, 7.81%, P = 0.008), and cyclic etidronate 1.85% (-1.55%, 5.25%, P = 0.280). BMD increases were significantly greater in patients with prevalent VF compared to those without VF (P = 0.025). In contrast, time since diagnosis of breast cancer was significantly associated with a decrease in BMD (P = 0.002). We were unable to detect any effect of current tamoxifen use, baseline lumbar spine BMD, or age on changes in BMD at one year. CONCLUSION: Treatment with alendronate was associated with significantly greater improvements in lumbar spine BMD within one year in breast cancer survivors when compared with treatment with cyclic etidronate or calcium and vitamin D.
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