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J Clin Densitom. 2012 Jul-Sep;15(3):290-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jocd.2012.01.008. Epub 2012 Mar 16.

Heel ultrasound can assess maintenance of bone mass in women with breast cancer.

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Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


Postmenopausal women with early stage breast cancer are at increased risk for bone loss and fractures. Bisphosphonates can prevent bone loss, but little data are available on changes in bone mass assessed by heel quantitative ultrasound (QUS). Our objectives were to determine if (1) heel QUS would provide a reliable and accessible method for evaluation of changes in bone mass in women with breast cancer when compared with the current standard of bone mass measurement, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and (2) oral risedronate could affect these changes. Eighty-six newly postmenopausal (up to 8 yr) women with nonmetastatic breast cancer were randomized to risedronate, 35 mg once weekly or placebo. Outcomes were changes in heel QUS bone mass measurements and conventional DXA-derived bone mineral density (BMD). Over 2 yr, bone mass assessed by heel QUS remained stable in women on risedronate, whereas women on placebo had a 5.2% decrease (p ≤ 0.05) in heel QUS bone mass. Both total hip BMD and femoral neck BMD assessed by DXA decreased by 1.6% (p ≤ 0.05) in the placebo group and remained stable with risedronate. Spine BMD remained stable in both groups. Heel QUS was moderately associated with BMD measured by DXA at the total hip (r=0.50), femoral neck (r=0.40), and spine (r=0.46) at baseline (all p ≤ 0.001). In conclusion, risedronate helps to maintain skeletal integrity as assessed by heel QUS for women with early stage breast cancer. Heel QUS is associated with DXA-derived BMD at other major axial sites and may be used to follow skeletal health and bone mass changes in these women.

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