Bisphosphonates for primary breast cancer

Bisphosphonates can reduce the risk of primary breast cancer spreading to the bones. Understand what they are, how they work, and the side effects.

What are bisphosphonates?

Bisphosphonates are drugs that may be used to reduce the risk of spreading to the bones and other parts of the body in women who have been through the menopause.

Bisphosphonate drugs

The 2 drugs used to treat primary breast cancer are:

Bisphosphonates may also be prescribed:

How they work

Bisphosphonates slow down or prevent bone damage. You may hear bisphosphonates called bone-hardening or bone-strengthening treatment.

Research has shown bisphosphonates may reduce the risk of breast cancer spreading to the bones and elsewhere in the body in post-menopausal women being treated for primary breast cancer.

The benefits of using them before the menopause are less clear.

Side effects of bisphosphonates

Like all drugs bisphosphonates have some side effects. These vary according to which drug you’re having and your treatment team will explain them to you. 

Find out more about:

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Quality assurance

This information was published in April 2019. We will revise it in April 2023.

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