What are bisphosphonates?

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

PDF icon You can also download a simple summary to find out more about the use of bisphosphonates to treat primary breast cancer.

Bisphosphonate drugs

The two 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:

Last reviewed: April 2019
Next planned review begins 2021

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