Metastatic breast cancer can have a significant impact on bone health. Specifically, breast cancer cells can spread to the bone and damage the bone cells. This can increase your risk of a bone fracture (or a broken bone) and osteoporosis, causing bone pain.
There are two types of medications that can be used to strengthen bones and treat bone pain:
- Bisphosphonates (Zometa, Bondronat) – given intravenously or as oral tablets
- Biologic agents (Xgeva) – given as a monthly injection under the skin
People with breast cancer may take bisphosphonates or biologic agents to:
- treat bone pain
- prevent bone fractures
- reduce the need for radiotherapy of the bone cancer
- maintain calcium levels in the blood
Side effects of bisphosphonates and biologic agents can include:
- flu-like symptoms
- hypocalcaemia (low levels of calcium)
There is also a very low risk of osteonecrosis (bone loss) of the jaw (ONJ).
If you are experiencing any of these side effects, our Managing symptoms and side effects page may help.