Does Having Cancer Affect My Bone Health?

While various treatments are necessary if you have been diagnosed with cancer, certain treatments could have an impact on other areas of your health — including your bones. Whether your treatment includes radiation, chemotherapy or medication, it could accelerate or increase your risk for osteoporosis or other bone health issues. To be prepared for the journey ahead, here are some tips on how to properly maintain and monitor your bone health during cancer remediation.

Nutrition and Bone Health

Certain cancer treatments could result in loss of bone mass or deplete the structures of nutrients that help them remain strong. Either factor could leave a cancer patient susceptible to potential issues like fractures, which can lead to significant pain, mobility difficulties and possible disability.

Such conditions might be avoided by receiving proper nourishment while undergoing treatment. Two vital nutrients often depleted during cancer treatments are calcium and Vitamin D. Both of these vitamins are crucial to bone strength and vitality. Here’s how each can help:

  • Calcium - Calcium is commonly found in dairy products such as milk and cheese. Cancer patients can increase their intake of calcium by consuming more significant quantities of these and other edibles containing calcium.
  • Vitamin D - Vitamin D is critical to the body's ability to absorb calcium. Vitamin D can be found in supplements including cod liver oil and certain kinds of fish.

Before taking any supplements or adding any foods to your diet, it’s important to consult with your doctor first to ensure this is complementary to your cancer treatments.

Monitoring Your Bone Health

During cancer treatments, you may be directed by your doctor to have your bones tested. Patients are advised to pay attention to any pain that develops suddenly or causes mobility issues and bring such concerns to the attention of their physicians.

However, receiving proper testing may prevent bone weaknesses or fractures. Your doctor can perform some diagnostic tests to determine bone health which may include the following:

  • A Bone Density Scan - Also referred to as the DEXA scan, this examination confirms how much mass the bodily structures contain. Diminished bone mass is often a precipitator for fractures.
  • The Fractures Risk Assessment - Known medically as the FRAX test, this study enables a healthcare professional to determine your risk for eventually developing bone breaks. It is important to note that numerous factors are also taken into consideration to establish a risk assessment such as your age, general health, weight, diet, and lifestyle.
  • Various Blood Tests - Your physician may also study blood samples to determine concentrations of calcium and Vitamin D.

Pain Management

Despite the preceding efforts, cancer treatments could lead to pain-inducing bone injuries. You might find relief by engaging in light exercises and a bone-healthy diet as directed by your doctor.

If you are undergoing cancer treatment and are concerned about the health of your bones, Parrish Healthcare can help. As a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Parrish Cancer Center and Mayo Clinic are working together to give you access to the latest clinical research and cancer treatment options available anywhere. For more information about our cancer care services, contact us today.

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