Patients afflicted with or being treated for cancer constitute a distinct and alarming subpopulation who exhibit elevated fracture risk and heightened susceptibility to developing secondary osteoporosis. Cancer cells uncouple the regulatory processes central for the adequate regulation of musculoskeletal tissue. Systemically taxing treatments to target tumors or disrupt the molecular elements driving tumor growth place considerable strain on recovery efforts. Skeletal tissue is inherently sensitive to mechanical forces, therefore attention to exercise and mechanical loading as non-pharmacological means to preserve bone during treatment and in post-treatment rehabilitative efforts have been topics of recent focus. This review discusses the dysregulation that cancers and the ensuing metabolic dysfunction that confer adverse effects on musculoskeletal tissues. Additionally, we describe foundational mechanotransduction pathways and the mechanisms by which they influence both musculoskeletal and cancerous cells. Functional and biological implications of mechanical loading at the tissue and cellular levels will be discussed, highlighting the current understanding in the field. Herein, in vitro, translational, and clinical data are summarized to consider the positive impact of exercise and low magnitude mechanical loading on tumor-bearing skeletal tissue.
Bone remodeling; Breast cancer bone metastases; Cancer-associated bone disease; Mechanical loading; Low intensity vibrations; Low magnitude mechanical signals; Multiple myeloma; Osteolytic lesions