Benefit of Bone-Strengthening Drugs
There is a fair amount of controversy and indecision re who should receive bone-strengthening drugs (the bisphosphonates). These drugs come in both oral/pill and IV versions, and are often prescribed to women with and without breast cancer. For the "withouts", the target is osteopenia or osteoporsis, and the hope is prevention. For the "withs" (and that would be us), the goals are both keeping bones strong (especially for women who are taking an AI) and reducing the incidence of bone mets.
This is a nice summary from BreastCancer.org about these questions. The data has been inconsistent, but there seems to be progress in determining who could be helped by these drugs. The short answer is that the value has been found for post-menopausal women, either women who already were that way or whose menopause was chemically caused by chemotherapy or hormone therapy.
Here is the start of the report and a link to read more:
Research Pinpoints Which Women Benefit FromBisphosphonates After Early-Stage Disease
Bisphosphonates are medicines used to prevent or treat osteoporosis. They do this by limiting the activity of certain bone cells, called osteoclasts, which help cause the bone weakening and breakdown that leads to osteoporosis.
Bisphosphonates also may help stop breast cancer from spreading to the bones by making it harder for breast cancer cells to grow in bones. So doctors wondered if certain bisphosphonates would help reduce the risk of recurrence (the cancer coming back) in women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. Reclast (chemical name: zoledronic acid),
Zometa (chemical name: zoledronic acid), Boniva (chemical name: ibandronate), and Bonefos (chemical name: clodronate) are the bisphosphonates studied to reduce breast cancer recurrence risk.
But until December 2013, results from studies had been mixed. Some research found thatbisphosphonates helped reduce risk, while other studies showed that they didn’t reduce risk.