Women who are treated with radiotherapy for anal, cervical, and rectal cancer have a higher risk of pelvic fractures according to a [new study in the *Journal of the American Medical Association*](http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/294/20/2587). More than 90% of the fractures were broken hips.
Using SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) cancer registry data from 1986 through 1999, Dr. Nancy Baxter and a team at the University of Minnesota, analyzed fractures in nearly 6,500 women over the age of 65 who either received radiation to their pelvic area (2,855) or did not (3,573). They also looked at bones that had not been irradiated in the spine and arm.
After adjusting for other important factors, women who had received radiation for anal cancer were more than 3 times more likely to have pelvic fracture than those who didn’t have radiotherapy. Fourteen percent (14.0%) of them had broken pelvic bones compared to 7.5% of the non-radiation group. 8.2% of women with cervical cancer and radiation had pelvic fractures compared to 5.9% of those who did not. For rectal cancer 11.2% of the radiated group experienced fractures compared to 8.7% of others.
However, there was no difference in spine or arm fracture rate in any of the three groups.
The authors suggested that women who had received pelvic radiation might be targeted for therapy to prevent hip fractures such as bone density scanning, medication, or physical therapy to prevent falls.
Pelvic irradiation substantially increases the risk of pelvic fractures in older women. Given the high baseline risk of pelvic fracture, this finding is of particular concern.
Find more information about the study in a [*Reuters Health* article.](http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=healthNews&storyID=2005-11-22T212236Z_01_ARM276923_RTRUKOC_0_US-RADIOTHERAPY-BONE-FRACTURE.xml&archived=False) or on [*MedPage Today*](http://www.medpagetoday.com/HematologyOncology/OtherCancers/tb/2199)