• Women's Cancer Research Foundation

4 in 10 Fractures in Breast Cancer Patients Are Pathologic



Breast cancer is associated with an increased fracture risk, attributed in part to estrogen deficiency, aromatase inhibitors (drugs frequently used in the treatment of breast cancer), frailty, and skeletal metastases. In a 2021 JAMA article, 40% of women with advanced-stage breast cancer endured cancer-related fractures.


40% of women with advanced-stage breast cancer endured cancer-related fractures.

The researchers studied 5,010 women on endocrine (hormone) therapy, who were followed for up to 10 years after an invasive breast cancer diagnosis for a clinical fracture. The mean age was 60; 91% had an early-stage breast cancer diagnosis. Three hundred and forty women had a fracture (46 in the hip, 104 in the vertebra, 78 in the humerus, and 137 in the wrist) during follow-up at a median of 6.7 years. The researchers further commented that differentiating between pathologic (disease related) and non-pathologic fractures is important for management decisions, as pathologic fractures may benefit from radiation treatment.


Researchers further commented that differentiating between pathologic (disease related) and non-pathologic fractures is important for management decisions.

Future research should focus on including risk factors to develop a prediction model for the development of pathologic fractures so that aggressive osteoporotic (disease that weakens bones) fracture prevention care (e.g., bisphosphonates, radiation therapy) can be instituted. Also, more frequent serial DEXA scans (type of medical imaging test to measure how dense your bones are), especially for advanced-stage breast cancer patients, may be considered to help with risk stratification (i.e., identifying those who would benefit from prompt aggressive interventions).


About Women’s Cancer Research Foundation The Women’s Cancer Research Foundation (WCRF) is one of Southern California’s and the nation’s most active research organizations for female cancers. We are dedicated to serving the interests of patients, families, and friends affected by women’s cancers. WCRF partners with physician-scientists nationally to make differences in women’s lives by offering hope, strength, and progress.


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