What Is Bone Metastasis?

It is essential to detect the presence of malignant tumors in time to prevent them from spreading to other body regions, a process known as metastasis.

Cancer is a serious disease in which the normal functions of cells in a tissue are disturbed. Thus, they begin to divide in an uncontrolled and chaotic way, and can form small lumps or tumors. Their natural death has also been disabled, so they can become immortal if not attacked.

Currently it is known that this pathology has its origin in a modification or mutation in the genetic material or DNA of the cells. The exact causes of this disease are still known, but numerous studies are being carried out for it.

However, there are several risk factors that increase the chances of developing this pathology. For example, radiation exposure, the use of toxic substances (such as tobacco or drugs) and the patient’s health status.

On the other hand, if these cancer cells reach the circulatory system, they can travel to other body regions. We include both the blood and the lymphatic system. This process is called metastasis.

In metastatic bone cancer, the cancer has started in another area and has spread to the bones. As a general rule, it usually spreads to the most central bones of our body.

Symptoms of metastatic bone cancer

pain-bones

The most frequent signs that patients with this disorder present are the following:

  • Bone pain.  It varies in intensity over time and can appear intermittently. It can be relieved by doing moderate physical activities. On the other hand, as the disorder progresses, the pain becomes constant and is greatly worsened by physical movement.
  • Fractures The bones gradually weaken and fracture or break easily. When this occurs the patient experiences sudden severe pain. It usually affects the bones of the spine and the long bones of the extremities more.
    • Compression of the spinal cord.  Here are the nerves that allow the individual to move, feel, urinate and defecate normally. Therefore, the patient will feel numbness or weakness in the affected limbs, urination problems, and constipation.
    • High levels of calcium in the blood. During this disease, the bones can release calcium into the blood, increasing its values ​​(hypercalcemia). The alterations associated with this condition are the following:
      • Constipation and loss of appetite.
      • Nausea and vomiting
      • Frequent urination and dehydration.

    Diagnosis of metastatic bone cancer

    X-ray image showing inflammation in the clavicle joint

    Also, the appropriate medical team can carry out a series of medical tests in order to identify this disorder. As a general rule, some of the following methods are carried out:

    • X-rays. We can see if there is a fracture in the bone and small spots could be indicators of bone metastasis.
    • Other imaging studies. For example, bone scan, Computerized Axial Tomography ( CT), Magnetic Resonance (MRI) or Proton Emission Tomography (PET).
    • Blood test. Usually a small amount of blood is drawn from a patient’s arm. Through a laboratory check, the levels of various substances that may be altered (for example calcium) can be checked.
    • Urine tests. Also during this pathology, certain substances associated with the breakdown of bones can be released.
    • Bone biopsy. During a small surgical procedure, a sample of the bone to be checked is removed. It is then analyzed in the laboratory for the presence of cancer cells.

    Treatment of metastatic bone cancer

    Effects of chemotherapy on the body

    On the other hand, a series of guidelines or treatments will be carried out in order to treat the symptoms and neutralize the pathology (or delay it at least). Among the most common we find:

    • Chemotherapy
    • Hormonal therapy
    • Targeted therapy
    • Immunotherapy
    • Radiopharmaceuticals
    • External radiation therapy
    • Ablation techniques, both radiofrequency ablation (RFA) and cryoablation
    • Bone cement
    • Surgical interventions

    In the presence of any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is recommended that you consult your doctor to start a study as soon as possible in order to detect diseases early and thus start your treatment. In this way, complications and pathological organic consequences on their state of health are avoided.

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