Second only to skin cancer, breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. It makes up about 30% of all new female cancer cases yearly. Accompanied by intense treatment and lifestyle changes, breast cancer can also adversely affect other body parts. The presence of the condition makes it more important for these women to practice bone health on top of the necessary steps. Breast cancer and bone loss have more connections than one may think. 

It was found that breast cancer survivors had a 68% higher risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia compared to cancer-free women. Orthopedic health is something often overlooked with conditions such as breast cancer. However, our team at South Shore Orthopedics intends to keep it in the discussion, so women can find the help they need. 

Breast Cancer and Bone Loss 

What is osteoporosis? 

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle. They reach a point where they are weak enough to break or fracture under conditions that typically would not. This generally is found mostly in the hip, wrist, or spine. As bone is constantly being broken down and replaced, this condition results from creating new bone, not keeping up with the loss of old bone. 

What is the connection between breast cancer and bone loss? 

The connection between breast cancer and bone loss comes from how cancer can weaken bones by causing inflammation, weakening the bones, and slowing new growth. Through many studies over the course of breast cancer research, a clear link has been established between breast cancer treatment and osteoporosis. On top of breast cancer’s impact, breast cancer treatment can decrease bone density and increase the chance of fractures. 

How do treatments impact bone health? 

There are many treatments accompanied by recovery. Many of these can impact bone health in their own unique way. Learning about a few can help you understand the importance further.


This treatment can lower a woman’s estrogen levels, sometimes even leading to early instances of menopause. In other cases, women experience a shutting down of their ovaries that can result in bone loss and an increase in the possibility of fractures.  


This medication is a selective estrogen receptor modulator that is used to treat all stages of receptor-positive breast cancer. This prevents estrogen from helping cancer as it attempts to grow. Those who have not reached menopause are faced with the possibility of osteoporosis; however, those who have met menopause are shown to have a decreased risk. 

Ovarian Suppression 

There is a bone strength reduction by ovarian suppression, stopping the ovaries from making estrogen. It is linked to the medication, so when you stop taking it, the estrogen resumes.  

How can you tell when there is a decline in bone health? 

Often women do not know they are facing a decline in bone health until something happens to show that their bones have weakened, such as a fracture. It is recommended that people who are at risk for osteoporosis due to conditions such as breast cancer get scans to see how their bone density and bone health have been affected. 

While there is already a lot on your mind when going through a breast cancer diagnosis, your bone health is important to keep in check. During recovery, this can pose other problems that only add to the situations you try to avoid. Are you interested in learning more about the connection between cancer and bone loss? Our South Shore Orthopedics team is happy to discuss your questions and concerns along the way. Check out our website or give us a call for more information.