Osteo after Chemo... and How low can a T-score actually get?

My husband is a strong 56 year old man who was never sick until this past summer when diagnosed with Lymphoma stage 4. He went through aggressive chemo and is in remission after a long 6 months! He has suffered a couple compression fractures of his spine and now after a Dexa Scan we learn his spine T-score is -3.4 and his hips are -2.7.

I know steroids can cause bone loss. He had one with each treatment so once every 3 weeks. Do the chemo drugs themselves also affect bones?

He has another strike against him. His mom had those same fractures at age 60 and his sister had her ribs break from leaning on them at age 45! Never thought he, being a guy was at risk but we did notice he lost about an inch of height in the last 10 years.

Has anyone heard what the LOWEST T-Score numbers are? Do they go as low as -8 or worse? If so, then maybe 3.4 isn't as bad. Just curious

Anyone else out there have any experience with cancer treatments affecting their bones? Any Men? I think he could use support from other men. He feels like he has a women's disease.

Do bone meds IMPROVE bone density or only prevent further deterioration?

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That is a tough ordeal your hubby has gone thru. As far as it being a woman's disease, that is true, what with 80% being women. He shouldn't take it personally, but we are in the minority here.

I'm curious, is his lymphoma the non-hodgkins type? Does Celiac Disease run in his family? I am a celiac, and have heard that NHL has a higher than normal incidence in celiac patients, particularly if they are undiagnosed, and therefor not following the gluten-free diet.

I was dx'ed with OP over a year ago at age 66. My spine t-score was -4.2, and hip was -3.9. I don't recall any others lower on this forum, but it probably doesn't go much lower. I've lost 2-1/2" of height. My op is due to being celiac and not being able to absorb nutrients and minerals most of my life. Wasn't dx'ed until age 60, so the damage was done.

There are meds and supplements to take plus exercise. He needs to see a specialist as soon as possible. Good luck,


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I have to say that my T-score is a rather poor -6.0. However I was born with a bone condition so that is why I have such severe osteoporosis. I'm not sure how low it can get!

I think people shouldn't worry too much about their scores, it is only a figure. My Specialist told me it doesn't always signify who will break more because for some reason those with a better score can break just as much as someone like myself with a very poor score. It is very much an individual thing.

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I agree Loods. I was also told that low T-scores are not always a sign you will get fractures. However Paintergirl I think if your husband has already had fractures - that is the sure sign he needs to do as much as possible to improve everything he can - diet, supplements, exercise (if possible). There are lots of books and advice on the internet.

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Hello, please place Jerryd3001 in Search (top banner). You will find a discussion - Men With Osteoporosis (scroll bottom of page) and other discussions from male community members. Hope this helps. Sandi

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Loods, bone strength depends on several factors. Bone structure is a network, with the spaces plugged up with calcium. The more the spaces plugged and the tighter the plugs, the greater the bone density and therefore the strength of the bone. But the network itself can have varying amounts of strength. Therefore someone with a strong network but fewer calcium plugs could be less prone to fractures than someone with good calcium plugs and a weak network. My T score in spine and arm is pretty low in the minus mid threes but I have fallen often and hard on my arm and so far (touch wood) not broken anything. Heridity plays a strong role. My mother lost 6 inches during her lifetime and once fell badly in the bathroom, banging herself on the fixtures but did not break anything. Same story for my grandmother.
There is no good test for measuring the strength of the bone network so everyone focuses on the density.
Forteo claims to strengthen the network too. I haven't taken the time to find out how they know.

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Loods, one more thing about t-scores. It is a statistical measure based on standard deviation calculation. Simply put there is a table (or a calculator) that will tell you, you are in x% of a sample population.Statistics says anything over 3 is not credible so I would seriously question the meaning of a score of -6.

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You guys are very nice to be posting! It just helps to talk to others and I shared this site with my husband so he could see what you all have to say. This week we will learn more how to deal with and what one can DO to improve his bone density.

I'd still love to hear from other people who seem to have developed this side effect AFTER chemo, too.

One can certainly find support this way. THANKS

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Oh Tom-WI

To answer your question my husband has NON-Hodgkins Mantle Cell Lymphoma. He had chemo for 4 days in the hospital every 3 weeks, six times. He had to be given a dose of DECADRON (a steroid) with one of his chemo drugs to prevent another bad reaction. We wonder if that Decadron is part of the culprit that weakened his bones. The spine center folks gave me the impression that it's more like DAILY steroid use that does the most damage to bones and his once a week dose may not be as much to blame as his family history.

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DBM thank you for your input, you seem to be baffling us with science!

I was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a genetic condition that means brittle bones. On top of that I now have Osteoporosis which is very common in people with my condition (98%) and therefore my bone density was bound to be poor. My spine was originally T -5.9, but after one year on fosamax went down to T -6.0, so unfortunately the medication didn't work for me although you could argue it didn't get much worse. I am only going by what my Specialist says. If they say it is a -6.0 who am I to argue?! It doesn't stop me enjoying life and while I agree people have to know their density score it shouldn't be the be all and end all!

PainterGirl - I wish your Husband all the best and hope things improve for him.

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