Objective: To investigate the incidence of bone fractures in patients receiving luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists (LHRH-a) for prostate cancer (in whom a continued low testosterone level after the long-term administration of these drugs reduces bone mineral density), and thus determine the risk of secondary osteoporosis.
Patients and methods: Between 1994 and 1999, 218 patients (mean age 77.3 years) were treated for >/= 6 months with LHRH-a for prostate cancer; of these, 14 (6%) had a bone fracture during their treatment. Patients with fracture associated with motor vehicle accidents were excluded. The bone density in the third lumbar vertebra was meas-ured using quantitative computed tomography. Osteocalcin, 1,25-(OH)2 vitamin D, urinary type 1 collagen cross-linked N-telopeptides (NTx), parathyroid hormone and calcitonin were measured as metabolic markers.
Results: The mean age of the patients with fracture was 78 years; the mean (range) interval from the start of treatment to fracture was 28 (11-46) months. There was no case of a bone fracture at the site of a metastasis from prostate cancer. The bone density was significantly lower in the patients with a fracture than in those without. Of the bone metabolic markers, NTx was higher in those with a fracture.
Conclusion: There is a need to measure bone mineral density and bone metabolic markers periodically, and to evaluate secondary osteoporosis in patients receiving long-term LHRH-a for prostate cancer.