Q. I've recently started treatment for breast cancer. What can I do to reduce my risk of bone fractures?

A.

Some women’s breast cancer is estrogen receptor positive, which means that the breast cancer grows in response to estrogen. In these instances, your physician may recommend cancer treatments that block estrogen production. Many women develop bone loss as they age due to their decrease in estrogen production. Cancer treatments that block estrogen production have a similar effect in causing bone loss.

It’s important to ask your health care team:

  • Will my treatment affect the strength of my bones?
  • What can I do to reduce the risk of bone loss and risk of bone fracture?

Your health care team will be able to make recommendations to reduce the risk of bone fracture from bone loss which may include:

  • Eating calcium rich foods, such as yogurt, cheese, leafy green vegetables, such collard greens and Swiss chard
  • Exercising to strengthen the muscles that support your bones
  • Using over the counter calcium (calcium citrate is more easily absorbed) and vitamin D supplements
  • Taking prescription medication to strengthen bones
  • Consulting with rehabilitation medicine specialists, including a physical therapist, to develop an exercise program that is safe and designed to meet your needs

To learn more, CancerCare offers a free podcast, Caring For Your Bones When You Have Breast Cancer, and publication, Latest News in Breast Cancer Research.

The National Cancer Institute’s information specialists can provide evidence-based information on caring for your bones when you have breast cancer by calling 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) or visiting www.cancer.gov.

If you have additional questions about bone health, please contact CancerCare directly for information and guidance. CancerCare provides free professional support services, including counseling, education, financial assistance and practical help. If you have a specific concern or question and would like to speak with an oncology social worker, please contact us at 1-800-813-HOPE (4673).

For questions about medical issues, please visit Cancer.net, the patient information website of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).