When thinking about the effects of prostate cancer, bone health might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Yet people battling prostate cancer have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis — a decrease in the density or quality of bone tissue — which can lead to pain, fractures, and even breaks.
The risk for bone loss increases with age, and men 65 and older with prostate cancer are at the highest risk of developing these side effects. However, it can be prevented, and the doctors at RGU are here to help! If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, here’s what you need to know about bone health:
How is bone health impacted by prostate cancer?
Patients who receive androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer have been known to develop osteoporosis as one of the side effects of this treatment. As a result, men who experience a fracture while on hormone therapy will take longer to recover.
Radiation and chemotherapy can also lead to bone loss, as can advanced prostate cancer. In advanced cases, the cancer metastasizes, or spreads, often reaching bones and leading to pain. This is why it’s so essential to begin monitoring bone health early.
How do I know if I have osteoporosis?
Many patients do not show signs of osteoporosis until they experience a fracture or break. That’s why the doctors at RGU are working to bring awareness to the risk of bone deterioration for our patients with prostate cancer. The good news: It can be treated with preventive measures.
The first step is meeting with your doctor to identify your risk for bone loss, followed by a Dexa scan (or bone density scan) to gauge your bone health. This way, patients can take steps to minimize risk and get earlier treatment at the first signs of bone deterioration.
What are the treatment options to prevent or minimize bone deterioration?
Based on your risk and health plan, your doctor can recommend a treatment to help prevent or manage bone loss. For men on hormone therapy, this may include incorporating medication into your treatment plan that helps minimize bone loss and strengthen bones. Medications most frequently used include Fosamax (alendronate), Actonel (risedronate), and Zometa (zoledronic acid).
Lifestyle changes also play an important role in your bone health, starting with a healthy diet that ensures you get plenty of calcium and vitamin D. Your doctor may also recommend specific weight-bearing exercises to help you build bone strength.
How can RGU help?
The team at RGU is working on developing a new Bone Health Clinic in response to the need for greater understanding and care around prostate cancer and bone health. Check back with us for more news on this important addition to our services.
You don’t have to wait for the clinic to open to get advice and care surrounding bone health. Schedule an appointment with RGU today to speak with a doctor.