Washington, November 14 : Canadian researchers say that treatments for breast and prostate cancers may result in bone loss.
Dr. Fred Saad, director of urologic oncology at the Universite de Montreal's Faculty of Medicine and the Centre Hospitalier de l'Universite de Montreal (CHUM), says that a loss of bone mass among people diagnosed with breast and prostate cancer may make them susceptible to osteoporosis and fractures.
"Our study also looked at possible medications that can reverse or halt bone loss," says the lead author of the study, published in the online edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
"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," adds Dr. Saad, who completed the exhaustive study with colleagues from McMaster University, the Universite Laval, the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia.
The researchers evaluated data from more than 3,500 breast and prostate cancer studies, and observed that breast cancer patients treated with aromatase inhibitors were more likely to have bone loss and fractures compared to patients who did not receive the therapy.
Men who received androgen deprivation therapy to treat their prostate cancer were also found to have an increased risk of bone disorders.
Though the numbers varied from study to study, an elevated risk is consistently observed.
"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," says Dr. Saad.
The researchers also evaluated data that included bisphosphonate treatment for cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.
They observed that prostate cancer patients, who received bisphosphonate treatment and androgen deprivation therapy, did show an increase in bone loss.
In the same vane, according to the team, there was a protective effect on bone loss for breast cancer patients who were treated with bisphosphonates.
"It is clear that the use of bisphosphonates attenuates bone loss. 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," said Dr. Saad.