Oktober 29, 2011

Drug fights chemo-related bone loss in older women

Drug fights chemo-related bone loss in older women
An osteoporosis drug can protect women from potential bone loss due to breast cancer-fighting drugs, according to a new study.

Use of the bone drug zoledronic acid, made by the drug company Novartis, was  found to be effective only in postmenopausal women. "It's probably not going to work for women who are premenopausal," says lead study author Dr. Adam Brufsky.   "You should know about your bone health after getting breast cancer therapy and talk to your doctor about it."

More than 600 postmenopausal women with early breast cancer participated in the five-year study published in the journal Cancer. Each of the women was getting the aromatase inhibitor letrozole, which is a drug that helps stop the production of estrogen to prevent the growth of breast cancer cells. The downside of these lifesaving drugs is the potential for bone loss and fractures if it's taken over a long period of time, which is the case with many breast cancer patients.

In this randomized study, some patients were given the bone drug along with their usual letrozole medication at the onset of treatment. The other patients received zoledronic acid after bone loss or fractures were discovered. Researchers found the earlier patients got the bone drug the more effective it was in preventing bone loss. While patients who were given zoledronic acid after bone loss still had positive results, "It's better to prevent bone loss from ever happening then to start treating once it has started happening," says Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. Many doctors are already giving patients some type of osteoporosis therapy at the start of their treatment but not everyone, Brawley noted.

In this study researchers found the drug to be safe and effective, but Brawley warns that zoledronic acid may cause kidney dysfunction, joint pain or serious jaw problems if a patient gets dental surgery or treatment while using the medication. He views this as an important study proving the effectiveness of giving the drug at the start of treatment, but  he mentions there are other similar drugs that are just as effective.   "I would encourage patients to discuss concerns about osteoporosis (with their doctors) if they are getting breast cancer treatment."

Zoledronic acid is currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

sources : http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/10/13/drug-fights-chemo-related-bone-loss-in-older-women/?hpt=he_c2


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