UW News

February 11, 2004

Hormone therapy for prostate cancer can lead to severe bone loss

Hormone therapy used in the treatment of prostate cancer can lead to severe bone loss in men, according to the report of an October 2002 research summit. The report will be published in the March 1 issue of the journal Cancer.

Androgen deprivation therapy has been shown to significantly reduce tumor growth and improve survival of prostate cancer. It works by inhibiting the production of testosterone by the testicles. While reducing stimulation of prostate tumor cells, androgen deprivation therapy also results in male menopause, thereby affecting the bone remodeling cells.

In October 2002, Dr. Celestia Higano, associate professor of oncology and urology at the UW, convened physicians and scientists at the Bisphosphonate Summit Meeting to discuss the bone-related problems in patients with prostate cancer.

They found that men with prostate cancer treated with androgen deprivation therapy are at highest risk for significant bone loss and fractures.

Bone mineral density scans of the hip and spine show that men treated with androgen deprivation therapy have bone mineral density measurements significantly lower than those of healthy men the same age. Early intervention, however, based on X-ray and bone mineral density scans, may reduce the risk of fracture and its devastating complications, the researchers concluded.