According to a recent article published in the Journal of Urology, further data shows an increased risk of fractures in men with prostate cancer who are undergoing hormone therapy.

The prostate is a gland of the male reproductive system. It produces some of the fluid that transports sperm during ejaculation. After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in men. The outlook for men diagnosed with prostate cancer is good; overall survival rates for all stages of prostate cancer have improved dramatically over the past 20 years.

Current treatment options for prostate cancer include watchful waiting, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or androgen deprivation therapy (also referred to as hormonal therapy). Androgen deprivation therapy is designed to block testosterone from stimulating the growth of hormone-dependent types of prostate cancer.

Treatment with androgen deprivation therapy can have such adverse effects on bone as reductions in bone mineral density, increased risk of fractures, and osteoporosis. Medical complications such as bone fractures can become particularly difficult for these patients since some may require surgery and/or immobilization for their fracture. Furthermore, fractures are associated with severe pain and increased medical costs.

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital recently conducted a study further evaluating the risk of bone fractures in men undergoing hormone therapy. This study included 3,779 men with prostate cancer treated with gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists (a type of hormone therapy) and 8,341 men with prostate cancer who had not been treated with a GnRH agonist (control group). Overall, men treated with a GnRH agonist had a significantly increased risk of developing fractures:

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  • Men treated with a GnRH agonist had a 21% increased rate of fractures compared to the control group.
  • The risk of fractures in the hip was increased by 76% in men treated with hormone therapy compared to the control group.
  • The risk of fractures in the spine was increased by 18% in men treated with hormone therapy compared to the control group.

The researchers concluded that these results provide further evidence that men with prostate cancer who are treated with hormone therapy have an increased risk of developing fractures. Studies will continue to evaluate use of bisphosphonates to reduce the risk of fractures in men with prostate cancer receiving hormone therapy. Men with prostate cancer who are being treated with hormone therapy may wish to speak with their physician regarding their risks of fractures.

Reference: Smith MR, Boyce SP, Moyneur E, et al. Risk of clinical fractures after gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist therapy for prostate cancer. Journal of Urology. 2006;175:136-139.

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