- How is breast cancer treated?
- Surgery for breast cancer
- Radiation therapy for breast cancer
- Chemotherapy for breast cancer
- Hormone therapy for breast cancer
- Targeted therapy for breast cancer
- Bisphosphonates for breast cancer
- Denosumab for breast cancer
- Breast cancer that comes back
- Treatment of breast cancer during pregnancy
- Clinical trials for breast cancer
- Complementary and alternative therapies for breast cancer
Bisphosphonates for breast cancer
Bisphosphonates are drugs that are used when breast cancer has spread to the bones. These drugs can strengthen bones that have been weakened by invading breast cancer cells and reduce the risk of pain, fractures or breaks. Bisphosphonates may also help prevent bone thinning (osteoporosis) that can result from treatment with aromatase inhibitors (see above) or from early menopause caused by chemo or hormone therapy. When used to treat cancer that has spread to bone, the drugs pamidronate (Aredia®) and zoledronic acid (Zometa®) are most often used. Both of these drugs are given into a vein (IV), often once a month.
Bisphosphonates can have side effects, including flu-like symptoms and bone pain. A rare but serious side effect from bisphosphonates is damage in the jaw bone. It can be triggered by having a tooth pulled while being treated with the bisphosphonate. It often appears as an open sore in the jaw that won't heal. Doctors don't know why this happens. Most doctors recommend that patients have a dental check-up and have any tooth or jaw problems treated before they start taking bisphosphonates.
Last Medical Review: 09/04/2012
Last Revised: 02/22/2013