"Since most men with prostate cancer remain on androgen deprivation therapy for an indefinite amount of time, bone loss can be a serious and long-term side effect from therapy," said Joel Nelson, M.D., co-author of the study and professor and chairman of the department of urology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "With more than 230,000 men being diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, the addition of alendronate therapy could help to prevent the incidence of debilitating bone fractures."
Androgen deprivation therapy works by depriving the body of testosterone, an androgen hormone that increases the growth of prostate tumors. However, testosterone also is essential to maintaining bone mass in men. While doctors have been using this type of therapy for more than a decade to treat men with late-stage metastatic prostate cancer, they have begun using it more recently in men with earlier-stage disease and for longer periods of time; this increased exposure increases the risk for developing osteoporosis.
"These results suggest to us that men who are under treatment for prostate cancer should be encouraged to get a bone density test and that those at risk could benefit greatly from bone-preserving therapy," said Dr. Greenspan.