Q: My wife is a recent breast cancer survivor. Shes had bone density tests every four months during this past year and they were all fine. But I am concerned, because now shes one inch shorter than she was at her last doctor visit four months ago. Is this a reason for concern?
Congratulations on your wife being a survivor, may she continue to do well. A 1 loss in just four months would be unusual, my initial impression is that its a mistake and she should get her height checked again a few times, on bare feet and at the same time of day each time. All the same, you are right to be concerned about your wifes height loss because there is a link between breast cancer and osteoporosis. This is the reason your wifes doctor routinely checks her bone density and measures her height.
Osteoporosis is a disease that results from a decreasing bone mass, which leads to thinning, porous and weak bones. As the bones lose strength, they also lose bone density, which may lead to a loss in height and a higher risk of bone fractures. Unfortunately, the leading to osteoporosis is often silent and without symptoms. It is important to screen for this disease in high-risk individuals by conducting bone density studies (or DEXA scans).
Fortunately, most women with breast cancer will live long after their treatment ends. But the cancer as well as some of the treatments used may increase the risk
for osteoporosis. This may be higher if the person had low bone mass (osteopenia) to start with. Here are some reasons for the link between breast cancer and
Our first approach is through lifestyle adjustments. These can be very beneficial and include:
Your wifes bone density studies have been normal, we know her bone health is OK; however she will still need to be monitored, most likely on a yearly basis
rather than every four months. I suggest you your wife to have a meeting with her health-care team to discuss the best ways to staying cancer free, while at
the same time keeping her bones healthy and strong.
Best of health to the both of you!
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