Bisphosphonates and breast cancer: What they are, how they work and the importance of dental care
Bisphosphonates are commonly prescribed to people with breast cancer to treat bone thinning as many cancer therapies can weaken the bones.
Bisphosphonates are also used to prevent cancer spread (metastasis) in postmenopausal early breast cancer patients. In secondary breast cancer patients with bone metastases, bisphosphonates help treat pain and risk of bone fracture. For more information and research on the use of bisphosphonates in postmenopausal early stage and secondary breast cancer patients, continue reading here.
Although its important benefits, bisphosphonates may result in serious side effects such as osteonecrosis of the jaw. Bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw (BROJ) is when the cells in the jaw bone begin to die. Symptoms can include pain, swelling, loose teeth, a numb jaw and visible bone in the mouth. The incidence rate of BROJ in breast cancer patients is approximately 3 out of 100 patients (1). Various risk factors can increase the risk of developing BROJ.The most important factors in BROJ risk are dental care and hygiene. Dental procedures can damage the mouth, increasing the risk of developing BROJ. For this reason, it is recommended to complete any dental procedures before the start of bisphosponate treatment. Dental hygiene is crucial to keep irritation of the mouth at a minimum and possible infections at bay.
Other serious side effects from bisphosphonate treatment include hypocalcaemia and kidney damage. To learn more about these side effects and useful tips to reduce your risk of developing them read on here.
Discuss the benefits and potential risks of bisphosphonates with your care team to understand what treatment plan is best suited to you.
With OWise you can track symptoms and side effects as well as your treatments all in one place. This way you can have all the information at hand during your consultations. This can help you have more meaningful conversations with your care team about your progress and treatments.
To learn more about how bisphosphonates work and why they may cause these serious side effects read our Bisphosphonates and breast cancer: What they are, how they work and the importance of dental care blog. The blog also discusses useful tips to keep your risk of developing these side effects low.
We hope that you now better understand what bisphosphonates are, how they work and the importance of dental care throughout treatment. Our aim is to make sure you are always kept informed so make sure to follow our Instagram and Twitter accounts for any updates.
If you would like to start monitoring and tracking your treatment side effects, you can download the FREE OWise app from the iOS App Store or Google Play Store.
1. Varun, B. R., et al. “Bisphosphonate induced osteonecrosis of jaw in breast cancer patients: A systematic review.” Journal of oral and maxillofacial pathology: JOMFP 16.2 (2012): 210.
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