The Connection Between Breast and Bone Health

Your breast and bone health are related, understand how

The connection between breast health and bone health is important. If you’re diagnosed with breast cancer, having a history of healthy bones can be beneficial.

“If you’re diagnosed with breast cancer, having overall good health including bone health, can reduce the impact of some treatments. I always encourage my patients to take care of themselves every day. Healthy lifestyle choices protect bone and may reduce the risk of breast cancer.”

— Lisa Carey, M.D.
Komen Scholar & Scientific Board Member and breast oncologist
UNC Lineberger Cancer Center
Chapel Hill, NC

Dr. Ingrid Mayer pic

“Even before a breast cancer diagnosis, bone health is important. Treatment for breast cancer takes a toll on your body and some people also experience side effects that make it even more difficult.”

— Ingrid A. Mayer, M.D., M.S.C.I.
Komen Scholar and breast oncologist
Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
Nashville, TN

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The Connection between Breast and Bone Health

Whether you’re healthy, have just been diagnosed with breast cancer or are living with metastatic breast cancer, the connection between breast and bone health is vital.

Knowing your family history and your potential health risks are lifesaving, so it’s important to learn your family health history so you’ll be aware of your risk of developing health problems.

I Wish I Had Known About Falls as a Breast Cancer Survivor

In 2011, Karen completed treatment, including surgery and radiation therapy, for early-stage breast cancer. Three years later, after a fall, she began to experience pain and discomfort in her left arm. After several doctor visits, Karen learned she had metastatic breast cancer. “I never considered there was something related to breast cancer after the fall,” she said. “I wish my oncologist had told me the whole story and the warning signs to be aware of.”

Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer with Carol Smith

Carol was diagnosed with HER2-negative breast cancer in 2013. She underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. After finishing treatment, Carol embraced a healthy lifestyle. “I lived life,” she said. “I ate healthy, ran, played tennis.” In 2015, tests showed the breast cancer had metastasized to Carol’s spine. Her continuing treatment includes a bone strengthening drug. “This is to make sure my bones were healthy, even though I have cancer in them,” she explained. Listen to Carol’s story here.

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Breast & Bone Health Risk and Tips

Whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s or beyond, knowing your family health history is an important first step in understanding your risk of breast and bone problems.

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  • Talk to both sides of your family to learn about your family health history 
  • Talk to a doctor about your risk of breast cancer 
  • If you believe you’re at higher risk, talk to your doctor about genetic counseling and genetic testing  
  • Talk with a doctor about which screening tests are right for you if you are at higher risk  
  • Have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years starting at age 20, and every year starting at age 40 
  • Sign up for your screening reminder at www.komen.org/reminder 
  • See a doctor if you notice any of these breast changes
    • Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area 
    • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast 
    • Change in the size or shape of the breast 
    • Dimpling or puckering of the skin 
    • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple 
    • Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast 
    • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly 
    • New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away 
  • Maintain a healthy weight 
  • Add exercise into your routine 
  • Limit alcohol intake 
  • Breastfeed, if you can 
  • Talk to both sides of your family to learn about your family health history 
  • Talk to a doctor about your risk of breast cancer  
  • If you believe you’re at higher risk, talk to your doctor about genetic counseling and genetic counseling and genetic testing 
  • Talk with a doctor about which screening tests are right for you if you are at higher risk  
  • Have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years starting at age 20, and every year starting at age 40 
  • Sign up for your screening reminder at www.komen.org/reminder 
  • See a doctor if you notice any of these breast changes
    • Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area 
    • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast 
    • Change in the size or shape of the breast 
    • Dimpling or puckering of the skin 
    • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple 
    • Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast 
    • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly 
    • New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away 
  • Maintain a healthy weight 
  • Add exercise into your routine 
  • Limit alcohol intake 
  • Breastfeed, if you can 
  • Talk to both sides of your family to learn about your family health history 
  • Talk to a doctor about your risk of breast cancer 
  • If you believe you’re at higher risk, talk to your doctor about genetic counseling and genetic testing 
  • Talk with a doctor about which screening tests are right for you if you are at higher risk  
  • Have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk 
  • Have a clinical breast exam every year starting at age 40 
  • Sign up for your screening reminder at www.komen.org/reminder 
  • See a doctor if you notice any of these breast changes
    • Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area 
    • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast 
    • Change in the size or shape of the breast 
    • Dimpling or puckering of the skin 
    • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple 
    • Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast 
    • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly 
    • New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away 
  • Maintain a healthy weight 
  • Add exercise into your routine 
  • Limit alcohol intake 
  • Limit menopausal hormone use 
  • Breastfeed, if you can 

  • Talk to both sides of your family to learn about your family health history 
  • Talk to a doctor about your risk of breast cancer 
  • If you believe you’re at higher risk, talk to your doctor about genetic counseling and genetic testing 
  • Talk with a doctor about which screening tests are right for you if you are at higher risk  
  • Have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk 
  • Have a clinical breast exam every year starting at age 40 
  • Sign up for your screening reminder at www.komen.org/reminder 
  • See a doctor if you notice any of these breast changes
    • Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area 
    • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast 
    • Change in the size or shape of the breast 
    • Dimpling or puckering of the skin 
    • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple 
    • Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast 
    • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly 
    • New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away 
  • Maintain a healthy weight 
  • Add exercise into your routine 
  • Limit alcohol intake 
  • Limit menopausal hormone use 

  • Talk to both sides of your family to learn about your family health history 
  • Talk to a doctor about your risk of breast cancer 
  • If you believe you’re at higher risk, talk to your doctor about genetic counseling and genetic testing 
  • Talk with a doctor about which screening tests are right for you if you are at higher risk  
  • Have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk 
  • Have a clinical breast exam every year starting at age 40 
  • Sign up for your screening reminder at www.komen.org/reminder 
  • See a doctor if you notice any of these breast changes
    • Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area 
    • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast 
    • Change in the size or shape of the breast 
    • Dimpling or puckering of the skin 
    • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple 
    • Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast 
    • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly 
    • New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away 
  • Maintain a healthy weight 
  • Add exercise into your routine 
  • Limit alcohol intake 
  • Limit menopausal hormone use 

  • Talk to both sides of your family to learn about your family health history 
  • Talk with your doctor about your risk of osteoporosis 
  • Talk with your doctor about bone density test 
  • If tests show or osteopenia or osteoporosis, talk with your doctor about ways to manage these conditions. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight 
  • Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D 
  • Add exercise into your routine 
  • Avoid smoking 
  • Limit alcohol intake 
  • Avoid falls 
  • Read the Surgeon General’s Report on Bone Health 
  • Learn more about bone health 
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Looking to learn more about Bone METS?

Visit “Let’s Talk About Bone METS” hosted by Amgen.
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