Purpose: Women with Hodgkin's disease in whom a cure has been achieved may be at risk for osteoporosis because of therapy-induced premature menopause. Our objective was to gather information regarding the integrity of bone mass in such long-term cancer survivors.
Subjects and methods: Bone mineral density was measured using photon absorptiometry in five groups of women: 11 patients with Hodgkin's disease and ovarian failure (Group I); six patients with Hodgkin's disease and ovarian failure who received estrogen replacement (Group II); 15 patients with Hodgkin's disease and normal ovarian function (Group III); 16 premenopausal control subjects (Group IV); and 11 postmenopausal control subjects (Group V). All patients with Hodgkin's disease were in remission and had completed treatment more than five years earlier.
Results: Subjects in Group I were found to have significantly decreased radial (p = 0.0009), lumbar spine (p = 0.002), and femoral neck (p = 0.0001) bone mineral density measurements compared with those in subjects in Group IV; the bone mineral density measurements at all sites of subjects in Group I were no different than those of subjects in Group V. Subjects in Group III had bone density measurements that were similar to those in Group IV, although the radial bone mineral density value was significantly lower (p = 0.0004). Determination of serum gonadotropins and estradiol was consistent with the menstrual status defining the five groups. No secondary causes for decreased bone mineral density values could be detected, since the mean serum levels of parathyroid hormone, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D metabolites were similar among the groups, and all prolactin levels were normal.
Conclusion: We have identified a new population of patients with a high risk of osteoporosis, and these results emphasize the importance of treatment-related ovarian failure in the pathogenesis of osteoporosis.