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Osteoporosis Related to Disease or Therapy in Patients With Cancer

Rita Wickham
CJON 2011, 15(6), E90-E104 DOI: 10.1188/11.CJON.E90-E104

Osteoporosis is a major public health issue in the general population, particularly in postmenopausal women. Patients with cancer may not only be at risk for primary osteoporosis, but for secondary osteoporosis related to cancer therapies—particularly therapies that impair gonadal function, lead to loss of serum estrogen, and negatively affect bone turnover. Normal bone remodeling is influenced by the receptor activator for nuclear kappa-B ligand pathway, calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrition factors, as well as modifiable and nonmodifiable factors. Identifying which patients with cancer are at risk for bone mineral density loss is important and may include patients with breast or prostate cancer, some survivors of pediatric malignancies, and adults with other tumors. Nurses play a major role in identifying those patients and their risk for low-impact fractures, which can have a significant effect on patient morbidity and mortality. Counseling and teaching are central nursing functions, as well as safely administering therapies, particularly bisphosphonates and denosumab.


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