Protect Your Bones During Cancer Treatment

Strong, healthy bones are essential to your general well-being. Protecting them becomes even more important during cancer treatment.

Strong, healthy bones are essential to your general well-being. Protecting your bone health becomes even more important when undergoing treatment for cancer, because some cancer treatments increase the risk factors for osteoporosis. A condition that causes your bones to become weak, brittle and more prone to fractures, osteoporosis can affect both men and women.

Bone strength can decrease with some forms of radiation, steroid treatments and hormone therapy used to suppress testosterone in prostate cancer patients or lower estrogen levels in breast cancer patients. Certain chemotherapy regimens can also contribute to loss of bone density.

To lessen your risk for osteoporosis, it’s important to include bone health maintenance in your cancer care plan right from the start. Talk with your physician about a having a bone density scan before, during or after treatment to determine if bone loss is occurring.

There are other steps you can take to help promote strong, healthy bones during cancer treatment. These include eating a nutritionally balanced diet and getting regular, weight-bearing exercise like walking and stair climbing. Maintaining a healthy weight is also important, since being underweight makes you more prone to bone loss and fractures.

Be sure to get enough calcium, the mineral that maintains bone health and strength. Calcium-rich foods include yogurt, cheese, broccoli and kale. Or, choose from calcium-fortified foods such as orange juice, milk and pasta. You may also need to take calcium supplements, along with vitamin D, which helps your body to absorb and retain calcium. Your health care professionals can help you choose the supplements that are best for you. They may also prescribe medications called bisphosphonates, which slow the rate of bone loss. Another important way to protect your bones during cancer treatment is make your environment free of dangers that could cause a fall. Enlist the help of friends or family to clear electrical cords or any clutter that could trip you up.

Learn more about bone health and treatment for osteoporosis at Henry Ford Allegiance Health.

There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer. But you may help lower your risk by maintaining a healthy body weight, limiting how much alcohol you drink and getting regular exercise.