Osteoporosis due to cancer treatment: pathogenesis and management

J Clin Oncol. 2000 Apr;18(7):1570-93. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2000.18.7.1570.


Many therapeutic regimens in cancer treatment carry the risk of causing or favoring the development of osteoporosis. Therapies in which hypogonadism may occur are most relevant in this respect. Prompt hormone replacement therapy is indicated in these patients. In patients in whom this is undesirable because of a hormone-dependent tumor, the risk of osteoporosis should be assessed by means of osteodensitometry, and prophylactic or therapeutic measures should be instituted if necessary. Early intervention improves outcome because osteoporosis therapy is most effective in preventing deterioration of bone mass. There remains much uncertainty in assessing the risk of combination chemotherapy with regard to the development of osteoporosis. Negative effects on the skeleton have, however, been demonstrated for individual drugs, such as methotrexate and ifosfamide. Negative effects of the tumor itself on bone metabolism may aggravate the degree of osteoporosis. Detailed data and long-term experience to assess the risk are urgently needed in this area and constitute an important research topic for the coming years and decades. This review discusses the most prevalent mechanisms of osteoporosis caused by cancer treatment and outlines therapeutic strategies for the prevention and treatment of therapy-induced bone loss.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Bone Resorption / chemically induced
  • Bone Resorption / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Fractures, Bone / prevention & control
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism / chemically induced
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Osteoporosis / chemically induced*
  • Osteoporosis / physiopathology*
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / prevention & control
  • Patient Care Planning
  • Quality of Life