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Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2011 Mar;12(4):657-74. doi: 10.1517/14656566.2011.557360. Epub 2011 Feb 7.

Treatment of osteoporosis and reduction in risk of invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women with raloxifene.

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  • 1Georgetown University Medical Center, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Department of Oncology, 3970 Reservoir Rd. N.W., Washington, DC 20057, USA.



Raloxifene, a non-steroidal selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM), offers a new dimension for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis and risk reduction of invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal populations at high risk. Both osteoporosis and breast cancer are important public health issues for postmenopausal women. It is well known that estrogen and estrogen receptors play an important role in the pathogenesis of both diseases. Initially, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was used for the purpose of preventing and treating postmenopausal osteoporosis. However, HRT significantly contributed to an increase in breast cancer risk. The SERM, raloxifene, is used for the prevention and for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis and reducing the risk of invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women.


This article reviews the emerging evidence of the efficacy of raloxifene in postmenopausal women, summarizes the results and places in perspective their therapeutic uses for women having either a high risk of osteoporosis or breast cancer. Emerging clinical evidence suggests bisphosphonates, currently used as drugs for the treatment of osteoporosis, may also reduce breast cancer risk. The status of other SERMs and bisphosphonates are included for completeness. A Medline search of raloxifene, osteoporosis, breast cancer and SERMs was used to derive a database of 355 references.


Readers will understand the value of raloxifene to prevent osteoporosis and breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Although most women do not require pharmacotherapy for menopausal symptoms, many are severely affected by osteoporosis or breast cancer at and beyond menopause and, for such women, pharmacologic intervention is important if they are to retain an acceptable quality of life. It is reasonable to use raloxifene or bisphosphonate as an appropriate drug that targets symptom-free postmenopausal women for treatment and prevention of osteoporosis but raloxifene is proven to reduce the incidence of invasive breast cancer.

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