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U of M study shows radiation therapy for pelvic cancers increases risk for fractures in older women

A University of Minnesota Cancer Center study indicates that older women who receive radiation therapy for treatment of pelvic cancers have an increased risk of hip and other pelvic fractures later in life. Researchers encourage such women to talk with their physicians about their risks and preventive measures, including having their bone density levels checked.

Nancy Baxter, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor and researcher at the University of Minnesota Medical School and Cancer Center, led the research team that conducted this study. Their findings along with an editorial about the study will be published in the Nov. 23, 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Baxter and her colleagues used Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) registry data, which is kept by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and linked to Medicare, to review the records of 6,428 women. These women were age 65 and older when diagnosed with pelvic malignancies between 1986 through 1999. The researchers' purpose was to determine whether women who undergo pelvic radiation therapy for pelvic malignancies including cervical, anal, and rectal cancers have a higher rate of pelvic fracture than women with pelvic malignancies who do not receive radiation therapy.

"We found that women who underwent radiation therapy for anal cancer had a three times greater rate of fractures," Baxter says. "Women who had radiation therapy for rectal and cervical cancer had nearly double the rate of fractures.

"We further found that of the 554 women who developed pelvic fractures, 499, or slightly more than 90 percent, were hip fractures," she adds.

The researchers found no significant difference in the rate of arm and spine fractures between women who received pelvic radiation therapy and those who did not.

"Admittedly, the technology used today and the way radiation therapy is given has improved and is better controlled than in the 1
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Contact: Sara E. Buss
buss@umn.edu
612-624-2449
University of Minnesota
22-Nov-2005


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