A new study reveals that women who use
bisphosphonates, a bone medication used to treat osteoporosis and other bone
loss diseases, have a reduced risk of endometrial cancer. The results were
published in Cancer, a leading peer-reviewed journal.
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The endometrium is the lining of the uterus or the
womb. Endometrial cancer is a kind of cancer that begins in the uterus.
Endometrial cancer is typically seen in postmenopausal women who are between 60
and 70 years of age and with low bone density. After ovarian and cervical
cancer, endometrial cancer is the most common cause of death from women's
Even though the exact cause is unknown, it is believed
endometrial cells could be the most probable cause.
of endometrial cancer:
- Pelvic examination with the help
of speculum to view the vagina and cervix for abnormalities.
- Use of a hysteroscope to examine
the inside of the uterus and endometrium.
- Transvaginal ultrasound to examine
the thickness and texture of the endometrium and look for abnormalities in
- Endometrial biopsy by getting a
sample of cells from uterus for laboratory analysis.
- Dilation and curettage (D&C)
is performed if enough tissue is not obtained during biopsy.
factors for endometrial cancer
- Fluctuations in female hormones
such as estrogen and progesterone.
- Women who have never had a chance
of being pregnant have a higher risk of endometrial cancer compared to those who have had at least one pregnancy.
- Obesity and old age increase your
risk of endometrial cancer
- Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal
cancer (HNPCC), which is caused due to gene mutation, is a syndrome, which
could increase the risk of colon cancer and endometrial cancer.
- Radiation: Powerful energy beams, such as X-rays
are used in an effort to kill the cancerous cells.
- Chemotherapy: It is generally recommended in
advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer. You could receive either one single
drug or combination therapy, given orally or intravenously.
- Hormone therapy: Hormones such as synthetic
progestin could stop the growth of cancer cells. Hormone therapy drugs could
lower the estrogen levels in the body; thus endometrial cells, which rely on
them to grow eventually, die.
- Surgery: Hysterectomy or removal of
the uterus is generally recommended for women with endometrial cancer. During
this procedure, generally the fallopian tubes and the ovaries are also removed.
This leads to menopause and the inability to have children in future.
loss drugs help in treating endometrial cancer?
Past studies have revealed that endometrial cancer
accounts for half of all gynecological cancers, which are diagnosed in the US.
It is reported to be the fourth most common malignancy in women and the eighth
most common reason of cancer death.
Scientists have conducted studies to prove that
certain osteoporosis drugs such as bisphosphonates could have powerful anticancer
properties. Bisphosphonates are commonly used to treat a condition known as
osteoporosis whereby the bones become thin, brittle and weak. They are known to
slow or stop the natural dissolving of the bone tissue as well as preventing
tumor cells from multiplying or invading healthy cells. Bisphosphonates are
marketed under the brand names Actonel, Boniva and Fosamax.
The study conducted and led by Dr. Sharon Alford, of
the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, is the first of its kind, to
demonstrate the potential of bisphosphonates in reducing the risk of
endometrial cancer. The study team analyzed data from the National Cancer
Institute's Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Screening Trial,
which included questionnaires about bone medication use. The results are
published in the journal CANCER, which is a peer-reviewed journal of the
American Cancer Society.
Study using Nitrogen Form of Bisphosphonates
Researchers chose to conduct the study using
bisphosphonates containing nitrogen only, since they have been shown to have
stronger anticancer properties. Bisphosphonates have also shown some anti-tumor
effects, including inhibiting proliferation, angiogenesis and adhesion of tumor
The study participants included 29,254 women. The researchers also
took into account their age, race, history of hormone therapy use, smoking
status and body mass index. The scientists found that there were 77 cases of
endometrial cancer in the non-bisphosphonate group as compared to 20 in the
bisphosphonate-user group. Sixty-nine in the never-user and nineteen in the
user groups, respectively, were found to be Type I endometrial tumors. The
study revealed that bisphosphonate users were half as likely to develop
endometrial cancer with an incidence rate ratio of 0.489.
commented, "This study suggests that women who need bone strengthening
medications and who have increased risk for endometrial cancer may want to
choose the nitrogen form of bisphosphonates because this form may reduce the
risk of endometrial cancer."
The drawback of the study was that 92% of the
women participants were white non-Hispanic women, thus suggesting a need to
conduct further studies in African-American and Hispanic women. The second
question that still remains unanswered is whether bisphosphonates affect Type I
and Type II endometrial tumors in the same way, since majority of cancer
incidences were Type I tumors.