A person with osteoporosis typically has low bone density, poor bone quality, and fragile bones. Some people think the condition occurs only in women, but older men are at risk, too. Because men with prostate cancer tend to be older, they are at risk for age-related declines in bone density. Moreover, men undergoing androgen-deprivation therapy for castrate-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) are at increased risk for loss of bone density due to treatment side effects. Research suggests that men can lose 2 to 6 percent of their bone mineral density in the first year of androgen-deprivation therapy. Loss of bone continues in the second year but at a much slower rate. Bone health is also compromised by cancer that has spread to the bone.
Bone loss can result in such skeletal-related events as painful fractures and falls, loss of ability and independence, and a reduced quality of life.
To detect osteoporosis early, it is recommended that men with advanced prostate cancer undergo regular bone-density screening with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scanning. This technique is the gold standard for measuring bone mineral density. It is a simple, painless test that takes approximately 20 minutes, and exposure to radiation is low.
Further, it is recommended that clinicians caring for patients with CRPC offer preventive treatment with supplemental calcium and vitamin D. Medications are also available to help prevent skeletal-related events. Talk to your doctor about the options.