Treatments to manage your osteoporosis

If you have hematologic malignancy such as leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma, you are at increased risk for osteoporosis. The malignancy itself or the treatment increases your risk. You should have a baseline DXA to measure bone mineral density before the start of treatment. Then scans should then be repeated on the basis of clinical evaluation.

Goals of treatment for osteoporosis among cancer survivors are to prevent further bone loss and potential fractures in the spine and hips. Once you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, exercises, nutrition and supplements may not be enough to prevent fractures. 

Several types of treatment are available for osteoporosis. However, no treatment will cure the condition. Not all options are appropriate for your individual medical situation. All medical decisions should be made with your doctor.

Drug treatments

(For steps to be taken other than receiving medications, refer to the healthy habits section.)

Bisphosphonates and denosumab are two classes of drugs approved for the treatment of osteoporosis and for management of bone metastasis and skeletal events associated with solid tumors; however, denosumab is not approved for use in patients with bone metastasis from multiple myeloma. Although hormone replacement therapy is helpful in osteoporosis, it may not be given in patients with history of cancer.

No treatment can cure osteoporosis but the drugs discussed in this program can slow down the diseases and help prevent you from getting a fracture or broken bone. Osteoporosis is a serious condition. It requires treatment and monitoring by a doctor to prevent additional problems

Jane: Well we made it! So how was your first session?

Charlotte: Oh, it was fine…and I’m so glad we decided to do this together…it makes it a lot more fun.

Jane: That’s for sure… we can gossip (grins)…but first you can educate me about this bone thing… did you read all that info your doc gave you?

Charlotte: You know …a lot of it’s about the different drugs they use to treat this…and there’s a lot to digest…but it looks like at this point, just taking calcium won’t be enough…

There are several types of medicines for treating osteoporosis: one class of drugs is called bisphosphonates. Denosumab is another class of osteoporosis medicine. Bisphosphonates are drugs you may have heard of by their various brand names…names like Boniva, Fosamax, Actonel and Reclast. These drugs all act by slowing down the loss of bone cells

None of these drugs cures osteoporosis, but all 3 of these drug classes have been shown to help prevent fractures in the spine. Most of them have also been shown to reduce fractures in the hip and other bones as well, but research on some individual drugs is not yet complete. 

Each of the drug categories has a different way of acting, and therefore they have different side effects and risks…and you will want to know more about those in order to work with your doctor to find the best one for you.

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