Prostate cancer therapy causes bone decay and fractures
A common treatment for prostate cancer can cause bone decay. Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) – which blocks the production of testosterone – weakens bones, significantly increasing the risk of fractures.
Up to now, doctors had assumed that ADT was a relatively safe procedure – but the serious bone damage it causes came to light this week only because of new monitoring technology that can assess the health of bones.
Researchers from the University of Melbourne used ‘virtual bone biopsy’ on 26 men who had started ADT 12 months ago. Over the year, the researchers discovered that the men’s bone health deteriorated rapidly.
Just as estrogen is essential for women’s bone health, so testosterone seems to have a similar function in men, the researchers believe.
(Source: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology, 2010; 29 September: doi: 10.1210/jc.2010-0902).