Evaluation of vitamin D deficiency in breast cancer patients on bisphosphonates

Andrea Wang-Gillam, Dorothy A. Miles, Laura F. Hutchins

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background. Bisphosphonates are very effective in treating osteoporosis and metastatic bone disease; however, unfavorable outcomes can occur when they are given to patients with occult vitamin D deficiency. No clear consensus exists on the assessment of vitamin D status in cancer patients undergoing bisphosphonate therapy. This study examines the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among breast cancer patients treated with bisphosphonates for osteoporosis or metastatic bone disease, and observes the use of calcium and vitamin D supplementation in these patients. Methods. This retrospective study reviewed the electronic records of 321 breast cancer patients treated with bisphosphonates. Information on age, race, and serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD), parathyroid hormone, and calcium were collected, and intakes of calcium and vitamin D supplements were queried in an outpatient pharmacy database. Results. Of the 321 patients treated with bisphosphonates, 209 (65.1%) had their 25-OHD levels checked at least once. Of these patients, 57 (27.3%) had a serum 25-OHD level <20 ng/ml. Of the 209 patients with a known 25-OHD level, only eight (3.8%) received >600 IU of vitamin D per day, and 41 (19.6%) patients received 400-600 IU of vitamin D daily. Conclusion. Especially in the setting of metastatic bone disease in breast cancer patients, we advocate routine 25-OHD concentration screening for vitamin D deficiency in general. Clear guidelines for the diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency in cancer patients would be extremely beneficial to have, as would identification of the proper dose of vitamin D supplementation. We recommend 1,000 IU daily to our metastatic cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-827
Number of pages7
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • Bisphosphonates
  • Breast cancer
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Vitamin D deficiency


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