Bone Health And Cancer Treatment: What To Know

man holding his elbow with a graphic of the bones in the arm over it

Bone loss creeps up on everyone as they age. Our bones become more fragile, less dense, and fractures become more common. Add to that having cancer treatments, and the problem becomes exacerbated. Bone health and cancer treatment: what to know.

Some Facts About Bone Loss

As we get older, cells that normally replace bone density do not work as well as they did in our youth. Tiny holes develop in our thinning bones leading to a bone disease called osteoporosis. Women are especially vulnerable after menopause and their level of estrogen drops. In fact, 80% of post-menopausal women suffer from bone loss and osteoporosis regardless of whether or not they had cancer.

How Cancer Treatments Affect Bone Health

We know bone loss is part of aging, but we also know certain types of cancer and cancer treatment can lead to bone loss regardless of age. 

Here are some concerning facts:

  • If you have breast or prostate cancer, you are at higher risk to develop bone loss as the drugs treating those cancers affect hormones like estrogen.
  • Those who had childhood cancers are especially at high risk for bone issues. Those treatments with chemo and radiation hinder bone development.
  • Some chemotherapy drugs reduce calcium.
  • Some cancers can spread to the bone.
  • Using hormone therapy to suppress testosterone in prostate cancer patients can cause bone loss.
  • Steroid treatments can lead to bone loss.

Overcoming Bone Loss During Cancer Treatments

There are some strategies to fight bone loss and osteoporosis even during cancer treatments.

Get a DEXA Scan

Bone density scans are helpful to determine if you have bone loss before, during, or after cancer treatments.

Daily Vitamin D

Take supplements and consume food loaded with Vitamin D like fortified milk. Spending a few minutes in the sun each day can help too. Talk with New Jersey Cancer Care, PA about proper dosage.

Replace Lost Calcium

Calcium decreases as we get older. Replace it with foods like cheese, milk, broccoli, yogurt, orange juice, and pasta along with supplements.

Exercise and Weight Management

Walking and taking the stairs are weight bearing activities which will stimulate the formation of bone strengthening cells. This in turn will keep you at a healthy weight. Staying active and eating a balanced diet will both aid in building healthy bones.


This prescription medication slows down the rate of bone loss and may even promote new bone growth.

Contact New Jersey Cancer Care, PA if you have concerns about bone loss during your cancer treatments and would like to learn more about personalized ways to increase bone health.