Peter M. Ravdin, MD, PhD | Authors

Managing the Risk of Osteoporosis in Women With a History of Early Breast Cancer

October 01, 2004

Estrogen is known to play an important role in skeletal health. Femalebreast cancer patients who receive treatments that reduce estrogenlevels, such as aromatase inhibitors, may increase their risk of developingosteoporosis and their risk of fracture. Clinical guidelinesenable the physician to assess the risk of osteoporosis by patient historyand physical examination. For patients identified as being at risk, it isnecessary to test bone mineral density (BMD), using the result to determinewhich patients require treatment. Two groups can be identified asrequiring BMD assessment according to general guidelines: patients< 45 years old who become menopausal due to treatment, and breastcancer patients receiving aromatase inhibitors. Bisphosphonates appearto be the logical treatment of choice for breast cancer patients, asthey do not interact with the estrogen receptor. Although not all womenreceiving aromatase inhibitors will require additional treatment for bonehealth, postmenopausal women with a history of breast cancer at riskof osteoporosis should be identified, monitored, and managed accordingto practice guidelines.

The International Experience With Docetaxel in the Treatment of Breast Cancer

March 01, 1997

The extensively studied agent docetaxel (Taxotere) has shown marked clinical activity in the treatment of anthracycline-resistant breast cancer. Phase I trials indicate that toxicities, such as mucositis and neutropenia, limit the administration of docetaxel to shorter perfusion schedules. Pharmacokinetic studies have shown that docetaxel's clearance by hepatic metabolism is correlated with a marked increase in risk of toxicity in patients with impaired liver function. Nevertheless, studies of docetaxel as front-line therapy for breast cancer were initiated because of its good activity against tumors in early studies and its close relationship to paclitaxel (Taxol), an agent with proven efficacy. Phase II studies have demonstrated excellent activity for docetaxel as a single agent, with an overall response rate of 61% in trials of a 100-mg/m² dose. A phase III study is currently comparing docetaxel with paclitaxel as single-agent therapy. Docetaxel is expected to provide a better response rate but a higher incidence of neutropenia. The agent shows promise in adjuvant therapy, with very high response rates in anthracycline-resistant patients. Preliminary results of tests using docetaxel in combination with doxorubicin show high objective response rates but low complete response rates; early results suggest that this combination may have some advantages over paclitaxel/doxorubicin. [ONCOLOGY 11(Suppl):38-42, 1997]