Background: In premenopausal women with early estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer, combined ovarian suppression and aromatase inhibition reduce estradiol production precipitously. The resulting unbalanced and rapid bone remodelling replaces older bone with less bone that is less fully mineralized. We hypothesized that these changes result in severe microstructural deterioration and reduced matrix mineralization density.
Methods: Images of the distal radius and distal tibia were acquired using high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography in a cross-sectional study of 27 premenopausal women, mean age 43.3 years (range 30.4 to 53.7) with early breast cancer made estradiol deficient for 17 months (range 6–120) using ovarian suppression and aromatase inhibition, 42 healthy age-matched premenopausal and 35 postmenopausal controls, mean age 62.6 years (range 60.2 to 65.5). Cortical and trabecular microstructure were quantified using Strax software.
Results: Compared with premenopausal controls, the women with breast cancer had 0.75 SD (95% CI 0.21 to 1.29) lower distal radial trabecular bone volume due to 1.29 SD (0.71 to 1.87) fewer trabeculae. Cortical porosity was 1.25 SD (0.59 to 1.91) higher but cortical thickness was not reduced. Compared with postmenopausal controls 20 years older, cases had comparable or lower trabecular bone volume and comparable cortical porosity and thickness. Matrix mineral density was 1.56 SD (0.90 to 2.22) lower than in premenopausal controls and 2.17 SD (1.50 to 2.84) lower than in postmenopausal controls. Results at the tibia were similar.
Conclusion: The severe cortical porosity and trabecular deterioration associated with estradiol depletion and the longevity of premenopausal women with early breast cancer treated with endocrine therapy provide a compelling rationale to investigate the efficacy of antiresorptive therapy initiated at the time of breast cancer treatment.