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Rosemere Cancer Foundation
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Prostate Cancer UK

Bone Health

Our bones are living matter. They are constantly dying and regenerating. As we grow older we need to maintain strength in our bones through use. Weight-bearing exercise and brisk walking or swimming are particularly important to avoid osteoporosis, a deterioration of bone tissue which can lead to fractures. Unfortunately this deterioration is made worse by:

  • certain hormone treatments for locally advanced and advanced prostate cancer (e.g. Zoladex) designed to lower testosterone levels
  • metastasis of the cancer to the bones in the advanced stages, particularly to the ribs, hips and spine.

Bone Density

A Bone Mineral Density test (BMD) or DEXA (short for dual energy X-ray absorbtiometry) scan is recommended at the start of long-term hormone treatment to establish a baseline. The doctor will get the results, which will come in the form of T-scores:

  • between 0 and –1.0 is normal
  • between –1.0 and –2.5 indicates low bone mass (osteopoenia)
  • below –2.5 indicates osteoporosis.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium intake is one of the keys to maintaining good bone health. Unfortunately, many doctors regard calcium as being only present in dairy products. But it is found in many other foods besides dairy: green fruit, vegetables, soya milk, and baked beans. Vitamin D3 is vital to help fix calcium in your body; it can be obtained naturally via careful and limited exposure to sunlight, and in oily fish and supplements. Many osteoporosis treatments combine calcium and vitamin D3 in tablet form, as well as bisphosphonates such as Zoledronic acid (Zometa). This may also be prescribed for patients when cancer has spread to the bones.

Most men in the UK are deficient in Vitamin D3, due to inadequate sunlight in the winter months, and precautions against sunburn in the summer. So some men could find Vitamin D3 in tablet form helpful in the fight against prostate cancer, alongside other treatments.

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Published: 1-May-13^ back to top