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Support Care Cancer. 2014 Jan;22(1):245-51. doi: 10.1007/s00520-013-1967-4. Epub 2013 Sep 17.

Bone health issues in breast cancer survivors: a Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) study.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Rochester, 601 Elmwood Ave., Box 704, Rochester, NY, 14642, USA, luke_peppone@urmc.rochester.edu.



Breast cancer treatments (chemotherapy and hormone therapy) can cause a rapid loss in bone mineral density, leading to osteoporosis and fractures later in life. Fortunately, preventative measures (vitamin D, exercise, etc.) can delay bone loss if employed early enough. This study compares the prevalence of osteoporosis and osteoporosis-related discussions with physicians among female breast cancer survivors and females with no cancer history to determine if breast cancer patients are being correctly advised on their high risk of bone loss.


The 2003 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, a nationally representative sample of 550 women with a breast cancer history and 6,673 women with no cancer history aged ≥65, was used. The first set of dependent variables collected information on bone health (osteoporosis, falls, and fractures). The second set of dependent variables collected information on bone health discussions with their physician. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to evaluate whether breast cancer was independently associated with bone health issues.


After adjustment for confounders, a breast cancer diagnosis was found to be associated with a higher prevalence of an osteoporosis diagnosis over their lifetime (adjusted odds ratio (OR(adj)) = 1.32, 95 % confidence interval (95 % CI) = 1.08-1.61) and falls in the previous year (OR(adj) = 1.23, 95 % CI = 1.01-1.51) compared to respondents without a cancer diagnosis. However, breast cancer respondents were not more likely than respondents without a cancer diagnosis to discuss osteoporosis with their physician (OR(adj) = 1.20, 95 % CI = 0.96-1.50) or be told they are at high risk for osteoporosis (OR(adj) = 1.41, 95 % CI = 0.95-2.10).


A breast cancer diagnosis was associated with an increased prevalence of osteoporosis and falls. Nevertheless, breast cancer respondents were not more likely to discuss osteoporosis with their physician nor were they more likely to be considered high risk for osteoporosis. Increased dialogue between physician and breast cancer patient pertaining to bone loss is needed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
[Available on 2015/1/1]
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