Radiotherapy-induced osteoporosis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter highlights the understanding of the skeletal consequences of radiation exposure in cancer patients, and the potential cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for radiation-induced bone loss. Patients receiving radiotherapy (RT) for pelvic tumors including cervical, rectal, and anal cancers have increased risk of hip fracture relative to cancer patients who undergo surgery or chemotherapy alone. Systemic reduction in bone mineral density (BMD) has been detected in cancer patients within the first year of radiotherapy. In animal models, acute deterioration of trabecular bone has been detected following ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation may have a direct effect on osteoclast precursor cells. Changes in bone strength after irradiation may be influenced by both architectural and material properties. In vitro, osteocytes appear more radiosensitive than osteoblasts when compared head-to-head in proliferation and apoptosis assays. A reciprocal relationship has been identified clinically between bone marrow adiposity and bone volume in cancer patients treated with radiotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPrimer on the Metabolic Bone Diseases and Disorders of Mineral Metabolism
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781119266594
ISBN (Print)9781119266563
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Bone marrow adiposity
  • Bone mineral density
  • Osteoblasts
  • Osteoclast precursor cells
  • Osteocytes
  • Radiation-induced bone loss
  • Radiosensitive
  • Radiotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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  • Cite this

    Wright, L. E. (2018). Radiotherapy-induced osteoporosis. In Primer on the Metabolic Bone Diseases and Disorders of Mineral Metabolism (pp. 788-792). wiley.