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J Bone Miner Res. 2012 May;27(5):1196-205. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.1556.

Fracture risk in women with breast cancer: a population-based study.

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Division of Epidemiology, Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


A positive association has been reported between greater bone density and higher breast cancer risk, suggesting that these women could be at reduced risk of fracture. To estimate fracture risk among unselected community women with breast cancer and to systematically assess associations with various risk factors including breast cancer treatments, we conducted a population-based historical cohort study of 608 Olmsted County, MN, USA, women with invasive breast cancer first diagnosed in 1990 to 1999 (mean age 61.6 ± 14.8 years), who were followed for 5776 person-years. Altogether, 568 fractures were observed in 270 women (98 per 1000 person-years). Overall fracture risk was elevated 1.8-fold, but the absolute increase in risk was only 9%, and 56% of the women did not experience a fracture during follow-up. Excluding pathologic fractures (15%) and those found incidentally (24%), to allow for ascertainment bias, the standardized incidence ratio was 1.2 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.99 to 1.3) for total fracture risk and 0.9 (95% CI 0.7 to 1.2) for osteoporotic fracture risk alone. Various breast cancer treatments were associated with an increased risk of fracture, but those associations were strongest for pathologic fractures, which were relatively more common among the women who were premenopausal when their breast cancer was diagnosed. Moreover, underlying clinical characteristics prompting different treatments may have been partially responsible for the associated fracture outcomes (indication bias). These data thus demonstrate that breast cancer patients in general are not at greatly increased risk of fracture but neither are they protected from fractures despite any determinants that breast cancer and high bone density may have in common.

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