Bone mineral density deficits in childhood cancer survivors: Pathophysiology, prevalence, screening, and management

  • Kang, Min Jae (Department of Pediatrics, Seoul National University Hospital) ;
  • Lim, Jung Sub (Department of Pediatrics, Korea Cancer Center Hospital)
  • Received : 2012.09.12
  • Accepted : 2012.10.09
  • Published : 2013.02.15


As chemotherapy and other sophisticated treatment strategies evolve and the number of survivors of long-term childhood cancer grows, the long-term complications of treatment and the cancer itself are becoming ever more important. One of the most important but often neglected complications is osteoporosis and increased risk of fracture during and after cancer treatment. Acquisition of optimal peak bone mass and strength during childhood and adolescence is critical to preventing osteoporosis later in life. However, most childhood cancer patients have multiple risk factors for bone mineral loss. Cancer itself, malnutrition, decreased physical activity during treatment, chemotherapeutic agents such as steroids, and radiotherapy cause bone mineral deficit. Furthermore, complications such as growth hormone deficiency and musculoskeletal deformity have negative effects on bone metabolism. Low bone mineral density is associated with fractures, skeletal deformity, pain, and substantial financial burden not only for childhood cancer survivors but also for public health care systems. Thus, it is important to monitor bone health in these patients and minimize their risk of developing osteoporosis and fragility fractures later in life.


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