Battling bone loss in breast cancer

The rate of death from breast cancer has steadily dropped since 1992 but many women live with long term side effects from their treatments, including bone loss.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The rate of death from breast cancer has steadily dropped since 1992 but many women live with long term side effects from their treatments, including bone loss.

Fortunately there are ways to prevent and even reverse the problem in certain types of breast cancer.

Dr. Lauren Carcas, a breast oncologist with Baptist Health’s Miami Cancer Institute, treats women with all types of breast cancer.

The most common is what’s known as hormone receptive positive breast cancer.

“Hormone driven breast cancer typically has a treatment that is hormone blockade,” she said.

While the therapy can kill the cancer, it can lead to bone density loss, especially in menopausal women.

That’s why Carcas includes bone modifying agents in the treatment, which serve two purposes.

“It basically tells the bone break down cells to stop working so hard and tells the bone building cells to work a little bit harder, the take the calcium and the vitamin d in the patient’s body and put it back into their bone density,” Carcas said.

Bone building is the focus at OsteoStrong in Fort Lauderdale.

Clients are led through a series of exercises on special equipment designed to exert the necessary amount of force to build bone, but in a safe way.

“We’re using isometric loading and bio feedback screens so you can see how much force you’re applying to your skeletal system in real time,” said Dawn Holey with OsteoStrong.

Strength changes are measured week by week.

“As your bones are being made stronger, your muscles joints and tendons can also get strengthened,” Holey said.

Breast cancer survivor Betsy McGee, who started the program in April 2021, also measures the benefit through routine bone density scans.

“There’s been no decrease in bone which is great,” she said.

“I’ll be very interested to see in a year or two after having done this for quite some time if i start showing then improvement not just staying level,” McGee said.

Experts say there’s clear evidence that the combination of pharmacological treatments and the right exercise can stop bone loss and even help many patients regain bone density.


About the Authors:

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.