Women receiving pelvic radiation therapy for gynecologic cancers are at higher risk for significant decreases in bone mineral density (BMD), with 7.8% of women in the study diagnosed with a pelvic fracture, according to findings from a study published in Cancer.

Researchers looked at data from 239 women who had pelvic radiotherapy for cervical, endometrial, or vaginal cancer between 2008 and 2015. They assessed the women’s BMD scans and biomarkers of bone turnover for pelvic fractures for up to five years.

Overall, 16 patients (7.8%) had pelvic fractures at rates of 3.6%, 12.7%, and 15.7% at one, two, and three years, respectively, with 52.2% reporting pain at the time of the fracture diagnosis. The proportion of patients who had osteopenia or osteoporosis increased from 50% at the baseline to 58%, 59%, and 70% at three months, one year, and two years, respectively.

“Our results suggest that pelvic fractures and changes in BMD were detected in a substantial proportion of women after radiotherapy for gynecologic malignancies,” the authors said. “Preventive strategies such as BMD screening and medical regimens for preventing osteoporosis should be considered to improve survivorship for these high-risk women.”