Bone Metastasis – What is it, Symptoms and Treatments

Bone Metastasis – What it is, Symptoms and Treatments  with drugs, radiotherapy and surgery. Also, Bone Metastasis occurs when cancer cells spread from the original site to a bone . Almost all types of cancer can spread (metastasize) to the bones . But some cancers are particularly likely to spread to the bone , including breast cancer and prostate cancer. Bone Metastasis can occur in any bone , but it usually occurs in the spine, pelvis, and thigh. Bone Metastasis can be the first sign of cancer, or Bone Metastasismay occur years after cancer treatment.

Bone Metastasis

Bone Metastasis can cause pain and  broken bones . With rare exceptions, cancer that has spread to the bones cannot be cured. Treatments can help reduce the pain and other symptoms of Bone Metastasis .

Causes of  Bone Metastasis: Bone  Metastasis occurs when cancer cells separate from the original tumor and spread to the bones , where they begin to multiply. Doctors aren’t sure what causes some cancers to spread. And it’s not clear why some cancers travel to the bones instead of other common sites of metastasis, like the liver.

Symptoms of Bone Metastasis:  Sometimes Bone Metastasis does not cause any signs and symptoms. When it occurs, signs and symptoms of Bone Metastasis  include:

  • bone pain
  • broken bones
  • Urinary incontinence
  • bowel incontinence
  • Weakness in the legs or arms
  • Elevated levels of calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia), which can cause nausea, vomiting, constipation, and confusion

When to See a Doctor:  If you have persistent signs and symptoms that worry you, make an appointment with your doctor. If you have been treated for cancer in the past, tell your doctor about your medical history and that you are concerned about your signs and symptoms.

Risk Factors for Bone Metastasis:  Virtually any type of cancer can spread to the bones , but the cancers most likely to cause Bone Metastasis include:

  • Breast cancer
  • kidney cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • lymphoma
  • multiple myeloma
  • Prostate cancer
  • thyroid cancer

Preparing for Your Appointment:  Start by seeing your primary care doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. Tell your doctor if you have been treated for cancer in the past, even if you had cancer treatment many years ago. If you are diagnosed with Bone Metastasis , you will be referred to a cancer specialist (oncologist).

As consultations can be brief, it is a good idea to be well prepared. Here’s some information to help you prepare and know what to expect from your doctor. What can you do:

  • Please be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. The moment you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there’s anything you need to do in advance, like restricting your diet.
  • Write down any symptoms you are experiencing, including any that seem unrelated to why you booked the appointment. Note how long you’ve been experiencing your symptoms and what makes your symptoms worse or better.
  • Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all the medications, vitamins, or supplements you are taking.
  • Consider bringing a family member or friend along: Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something you missed or forgot.

Write down questions to ask your doctor. Preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For Bone Metastasis , some basic questions for your doctor include:

  • What is the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
  • What types of tests do I need?
  • What treatments are available and which do you recommend?
  • What’s my prognosis?
  • Are there any experimental treatments or clinical trials available to me?
  • I have these other health conditions. How will this affect my treatment?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the drug you prescribe me?
  • Are there brochures or other printed materials I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
  • What will determine whether I should plan a follow-up visit?

In addition to the questions you’ve prepared to ask your doctor, don’t hesitate to ask any additional questions that come up during your appointment.

What to Expect from Your Doctor: Your doctor  is likely to ask you a series of questions. Being ready to answer them can allow you more time to cover other points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did you first start experiencing symptoms?
  • Were your symptoms continuous or do they come and go?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • Does anything make your symptoms worse?
What is Bone Metastasis

Bone Metastasis Tests and Diagnosis:  Imaging tests are used to investigate signs and symptoms that may indicate Bone Metastasis . Which tests you undergo depends on your specific situation. Tests can include:

  • X-ray
  • Bone scanning (bone scintigraphy)
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

Bone Metastasis Treatments   Treatments for Bone Metastasis include medications, radiation therapy, and surgery. Which treatments are best for you will depend on the specifics of your situation. Medications used in people with Bone Metastasis include:

Bone Building Medications: Medications  commonly used to treat people with thin bones (osteoporosis) can also help people with Bone Metastasis . These medications can strengthen bones  and reduce pain caused by Bone Metastasis , reducing the need for severe pain medication. Bone -building drugs can also reduce your risk of developing new Bone Metastasis .

These drugs can be given every few weeks through a vein in the arm or through an injection. Oral forms of these drugs are available, but are generally not as effective as IV forms, and can cause digestive tract side effects. Bone -building drugs can cause temporary bone pain and kidney problems. They increase the risk of a rare but serious deterioration of the jaw (osteonecrosis).

Chemotherapy:  If the cancer has spread to multiple bones , your doctor may recommend chemotherapy. Chemotherapy travels throughout your body to fight cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be taken as a pill, given through a vein, or both. Side effects depend on the specific chemotherapy drugs you receive. For cancers that are sensitive to chemotherapy, chemotherapy may be the best way to relieve pain from bone metastases.

Hormone Therapy:  For cancers that are sensitive to hormones in the body, treatment to suppress these hormones may be an option. Breast cancers and prostate cancer are often sensitive to hormone blocking treatments. Hormone therapy may involve taking drugs to reduce levels of natural hormones or drugs that block the interaction between hormones and cancer cells. Another option is surgery to remove hormone-producing organs – in women, the ovaries and in men, the testes.

Pain Medications: Pain  medications can control pain caused by Bone Metastasis . Pain medications can include over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or stronger prescription pain relievers such as morphine (Avinza, MS Contin, others).

It can take time to determine which combination of pain medications is best for you. If you are taking medication but are still in pain, let your doctor know. A pain specialist can offer additional pain relief options.

Steroids:  Medications known as steroids can often help relieve the pain associated with Bone Metastasis by decreasing swelling and inflammation around cancer sites. These steroids are different from the types of steroids that bodybuilders or athletes use to build muscle.

These can work quite quickly to help with pain and prevent some cancer complications, but they should also be used very cautiously as they have side effects, especially when used for prolonged periods.

Targeted Therapy:  For many types of cancer, a new class of drugs known as targeted therapies is available. These drugs attack specific abnormalities within the cancer cells. Some cancers may respond very well to these treatments. For example, breast cancer cells that are HER2 positive may respond to trastuzumab (Herceptin) therapy.

External Radiotherapy: Radiation  therapy uses high-powered energy beams, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be an option if your Bone Metastasis is causing pain that is not controlled with pain medications or if the pain is limited to a small number of areas. Depending on your situation, radiation to the bone  may be given in one large dose or several smaller doses over several days. The side effects of radiation depend on the site being treated and its size.

Surgery:  Surgical procedures can help stabilize a bone that is at risk of breaking or repairing a broken bone.

  • Surgery to stabilize the bone: If the bone  is at risk of breaking due to Bone Metastasis , surgeons can stabilize the bone using metal plates, screws and nails (orthopedic fixation). Orthopedic fixation can relieve pain and improve function. Radiation therapy is often given when you have healed after surgery.
  • Surgery to inject a bone with cement: Bones that cannot be easily reinforced with metal plates or screws, such as bones and pelvis bones in the spine, can benefit from bone cement. Doctors have injected bone cement into a bone that is broken or damaged by Bone Metastasis . This procedure can reduce pain.
  • Surgery to repair a broken bone: If Bone Metastasis has caused a bone to break, surgeons can work to repair the bone. This involves using metal plates, screws and nails to stabilize the bone.

Joint replacement, such as a hip replacement, may be another option. In general, broken bones  caused by Bone Metastasis are not helped by putting a cast on the broken bone.

Warming and Freezing Cancer Cells:  Procedures to kill cancer cells with heat or cold can help control pain. These procedures may be an option if you have one or two areas of Bone Metastasis and they are not helped by other treatments. During a procedure called radiofrequency ablation, a needle containing an electrical probe is inserted into the bone tumor.

Electricity passes through the probe and heats the surrounding tissue. The fabric is allowed to cool, and the process is repeated. A similar procedure called cryoablation freezes the tumor and then allows it to thaw. The process is repeated several times. Side effects can include damage to nearby structures such as nerves and damage to bones  that can increase the risk of a broken bone.

Intravenous Radiation:  For people with multiple bone metastases  , a form of radiation called a radiopharmaceutical may be given through a vein. Radiopharmaceuticals use low levels of radioactive material that have a strong attraction to bones . Once in your body, the particles travel to areas of Bone Metastasis and release their radiation. Radiopharmaceuticals can help control pain caused by Bone Metastasis . Side effects can include bone marrow damage, which can lead to low blood cell counts.

Clinical Trials:  Clinical trials are studies of new treatments and new ways of using existing treatments. Enrolling in a clinical trial gives you the chance to try out the latest treatments. But a cure is not guaranteed, and the side effects of new treatments may not be known. Discuss available clinical trials with your doctor.

Useful links: 

Physical Therapy:  A physical therapist can work with you to come up with a plan that will help you increase your strength and improve your mobility. A physical therapist can suggest assistive devices to help you cope. Examples might include crutches or a walker to take weight off an affected bone  when walking, a cane to improve balance, or a brace to stabilize the spine. A physical therapist can also suggest specific exercises to help you maintain your strength and reduce your pain.

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