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Study identifies causes of bone loss in breast cancer survivors
Date:11/19/2008

d from Loyola's Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center and 174 patients without breast cancer referred from primary care physicians.

Thirty eight percent of the breast cancer patients had vitamin D deficiency, compared with 51 percent of the non breast cancer patients. Another cause of osteoporosis, excessive calcium excretion in urine, was found in 16 percent of cancer patients and 8 percent of noncancer patients. And in 5 percent of patients, the parathyroid gland was overactive, producing a hormone that causes bone to lose calcium.

Vitamin D deficiency can be treated with prescription doses of vitamin D supplements. Excessive calcium excretion can be treated with a "water pill" that's also used to treat high blood pressure, Camacho said. There are various treatments for parathyroid gland disorder, depending on its cause.

In certain breast cancer patients, bone loss from cancer drugs can be treated with osteoporosis drugs such as alendronate sodium (Fosamax) and ibandronate sodium (Boniva), Camacho said.

Albain refers all her breast cancer patients for a comprehensive bone health evaluation when osteopenia or osteoporosis is discovered. "Just prescribing a medication for osteoporosis may not be enough for many of our patients," Albain said. "They deserve a thorough workup."

Patient Rosaleen O'Connor, 71, of Elmhurst, Il., learned she had osteoporosis while being treated by Albain for breast cancer. Albain referred O'Connor to Camacho, who prescribed calcium supplements, prescription vitamin D and the osteoporosis drug Boniva. Three years after O'Connor was diagnosed, her Stage 3 cancer is in remission, and she has suffered no bone fractures.


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Contact: Jim Ritter
jritter@lumc.edu
708-216-2445
Loyola University Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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