"In previous studies, we have determined that men who receive androgen deprivation therapy, a frequently used treatment for prostate cancer, suffer from severe drops in bone mass and are at an increased risk for fracture," said study principal investigator Susan Greenspan, M.D., professor of medicine, University of Pittsburgh and director, Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment Center, UPMC. "In an attempt to mitigate these effects, we gave men using this therapy a once-weekly oral agent called alendronate that is commonly used to treat osteoporosis. We found that men who received it had significantly increased bone mass compared to those who did not receive the therapy."

The study included 112 men with prostate cancer with an average age of 71. After an average of two years androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer, only 9 percent of the men had normal bone mass, while 52 percent had low bone mass and 39 percent developed osteoporosis. They were randomised into two groups to receive either alendronate once a week through an orally administered pill or a placebo. At one year follow-up, bone mass in the spine and hip increased significantly in the men treated with alendronate, 4.9 percent and 2.1 percent respectively. By comparison, men in the placebo group had significant losses of bone mass in the spine and hip, 1.3 percent and .7 percent respectively.

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.

"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 Greenspan.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center