Background: Prostate carcinoma poses a significant public health problem. Although a minority of men with newly diagnosed prostate carcinoma manifest bone metastases or skeletal abnormalities, a significant proportion of men will develop these complications over the course of their lives. Patients at highest risk for bone metastases include those with high grade, high stage neoplasms, those who fail primary curative therapies such as radical prostatectomy or radiation therapy, and those who develop biochemical recurrence after hormonal therapy.
Methods: The relative risks and prognostic factors for bone metastases in each of these settings will be reviewed.
Results: In comparison with men without prostate carcinoma, benign skeletal complications (osteopenia and fractures) occur at significantly increased rates among men with untreated prostate carcinoma. Moreover, the incidence rate of these conditions increases dramatically among those men who are receiving endocrine therapy. The duration and intensity of the endocrine therapy may be associated with the incidence rate and severity of skeletal complications.
Conclusions: Given the significant incidence rate and quality of life implications of skeletal complications and bone metastases, there is an urgent need to identify effective preventive therapies and treatments. Bisphosphonates may have a role in preventing osteopenia and, potentially, bone metastases among men with prostate carcinoma.