Osteoporosis is a condition where your bones lose their density and become weaker, increasing your risk of a bone fracture. Your risk of developing osteoporosis increases as you grow older, and also depends on factors such as your family and medical history. For women, a major contributor to developing osteoporosis is low estrogen levels.
Estrogen protects against bone loss and helps to keep bones strong. Women who have gone through the menopause are at increased risk of osteoporosis and fractures because their their body produces less estrogen. Treatment for cancer such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy or ovarian suppression, may also result in lower estrogen levels.
Breast Cancer Treatments & Bone Health
Breast cancer treatments have harsh side effects on the body, some that even last permanently. Osteoporosis can be one of these long-lasting side effects. Chemotherapy can change ovarian function from premenopausal to postmenopausal, essentially forcing some women into early menopause. The lower estrogen levels as a result of chemo can increase risk of osteoporosis. Certain breast cancer treatments and medications also lead to lower bone density, elevating the risk for serious fractures.
Although some of the factors contributing to the development of osteoporosis and bone loss in breast cancer survivors are out of your control, there are a few things you can do that may help reduce the impact of these treatments.
Bone Density Scans for Osteoporosis
Your doctor should arrange for a bone density scan before you begin any breast cancer treatment protocol. The initial scan will offer a baseline view of your bone density, and subsequent scans over the course of treatment can show any changes or bone loss. In the event of a rapid decrease in bone density, your doctor may initiate osteoporosis treatment or preventative measures.
If possible, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet and consistent exercise while undergoing breast cancer treatment. Both can help you maintain bone density. Weight bearing exercises such as walking or lifting weights are best for preventing bone loss. Your doctor may also recommend you increase your intake of calcium and vitamin D.
iRad Medical Imaging Specialists
We are the number one provider for medical imaging equipment. We guide doctors, clinics and hospitals to make the best decisions for their patients and their business. If you’re in need of a bone density scanner or other medical imaging equipment, schedule a free call with one of our experts to learn more about how we can help.