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Bone Health


Breast cancer treatment can affect the health of your bones. Hormonal changes and menopause put some women at increased risk for losing bone tissue because of decreased estrogen levels.

Bone Loss from Breast Cancer Treatment

You should be aware of two bone loss conditions:

  • Osteopenia means you have less bone density or bone mass than normal.
  • This can lead to osteoporosis, where the decrease in bone mass and density makes bones fragile and easier to break.

Talk to your doctor about taking a bone-density test (often called a DEXA scan). You can find out your risk for bone conditions and take action to stay healthy.

Doctors may use a class of drugs called bisphosphonates to treat osteoporosis. These drugs can also help with bone issues related to cancer. They can:

  • Treat hypocalcaemia (abnormally low calcium levels) and other, related cancer symptoms.
  • Reduce metastasis to the bones.
  • When cancer has spread to the bones: prevent fractures, improve healing and reduce pain.

Note, as with any drug, bisphosphonates have side effects. Talk with your healthcare team and ask questions to decide what’s best for you and your bones.

Taking Care of Your Bones

To support your bone health:

  • Get the recommended 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day through supplements and foods like low-fat dairy products, leafy green vegetables and calcium fortified cereal and juice.
  • Consult your oncology team to determine if Vitamin D supplements are needed and at what dosage.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Stay active, especially through weight bearing and strengthening exercises.
  • Quit smoking, or don’t start.
  • Limit alcohol intake.

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