Breast, prostate cancer treatment can lead to bone loss

November 14th, 2008 - 9:40 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Nov 14 (IANS) Breast and prostate cancer treatment may trigger bone loss in patients, warns a Canadian study.Carried out by various Canadian universities, the study titled “Cancer-treatment induced bone loss in breast and prostate cancer” says the loss of bone mass in patients treated for breast and prostate cancer can lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Led by Fred Saad of Montreal University, the researchers evaluated data from more than 3,500 breast and prostate cancer studies as part of their study. They found that breast cancer patients treated with aromatase inhibitors were at higher risk of bone loss and fractures, compared to patients who didn’t receive the therapy.

They also found that men who received androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer had an increased risk of bone disorders.

“Our study also looked at possible medications that can reverse or halt bone loss,” said Fred Saad, lead author and director of urologic oncology at Montreal University’s Faculty of Medicine.

“Bone is a dynamic tissue which undergoes a cyclic process of breaking down and rebuilding. Medications called bisphosphonates help with the rebuilding process and have been successfully used to combat osteoporosis, which is good news for cancer patients,” he said.

Evaluating data from bisphosphonate treatment of cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, the researchers found those who received bisphosphonate treatment and androgen deprivation therapy did show an increase in bone loss. However, they found a “protective effect” on bone loss for breast cancer patients who received bisphosphonate treatment.

“It is clear that the use of bisphosphonates attenuates bone loss,” said Saad.

“However, the optimal dosing and long-term impact is unclear and needs to be determined. Other measures to combat the bone loss, such as exercise, Vitamin D intake, avoidance of cigarettes, may also be beneficial.”

According to him, “Awareness of the incidence of cancer-associated bone loss raises issues for clinicians who should identify those patients who are most at risk for fractures and prescribe treatment strategies.

“This information is not only a concern for the specialists, but also for the general practitioners who frequently encounter these patients.”

The study has been published in the online edition of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

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