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OBJECTIVE: Baseline bone health in postmenopausal women is poorly characterized in prospective series of early breast cancer (EBC) patients candidates to aromatase inhibitor (AI) therapy. Our objective is to comprehensively evaluate bone health in a prospective clinical cohort of patients recruited prior to adjuvant AI therapy, with the aim of establishing potential AI impact on bone loss and fractures. METHODS: From January 2006 to April 2010, we consecutively included 343 women with EBC who were about to start adjuvant AI therapy. Participants were assessed at baseline (before AI initiation) and at 3 months, with annual assessments thereafter. Bone mineral density (BMD), spine X-ray, bone metabolism (vitamin D [25(OH)D], bone turnover markers [BTM]), arthralgia and quality of life are measured. RESULTS: Mean age was 61.9 years; 197 (57.4%) had been previously treated with tamoxifen; 145 (42.3%) were taking exemestane, 187 (54.5%) letrozole, and 11 (3.2%) anastrozole. Analysis of baseline data shows only 59 women (17.7%) had normal BMD; 200 (60.1%) had osteopenia and 74 (22.2%) had osteoporosis; 39 women (11.4%) had a prevalent fracture, 293 (89.1%) had 25(OH)D insufficiency (<30 ng/ml), and 61 (18.5%) severe deficiency (<10 ng/ml). Low 25(OH)D concentrations were associated with lower BMD and 233 (67.9%) participants had some degree of arthralgia. CONCLUSIONS: Low bone mass, prevalent fractures and vitamin D insufficiency were highly prevalent among candidates to adjuvant AI for EBC. Therefore, it is crucial to assess BMD, prevalent fractures and 25(OH)D concentrations before starting AI therapy and during follow-up.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





95 - 101


Aged, Aromatase Inhibitors, Bone Density, Bone Remodeling, Bone Resorption, Bone and Bones, Breast Neoplasms, Female, Fractures, Spontaneous, Humans, Middle Aged, Prospective Studies, Quality of Life