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Metastatic bone disease is the spread of a malignant tumour from one part of the body to the bone.
A tumour is a growth of abnormal cells. When the growth is out of control and spreads or damages other cells, the tumour is called malignant. That means it's a type of cancer.
When cancer starts somewhere in the body—like in the prostate, breast, lungs, thyroid, or kidney—and spreads to another area, such as the bone, it is called metastatic. These tumours aren't the same as bone cancer. They are made of cancer cells from somewhere else in the body.
The main symptom that cancer may have spread to your bones is pain or pressure in the bones. Metastatic cancer cells in your bone can weaken the bone and may cause it to break.
You may not have any symptoms. A doctor may find a tumour when taking X-rays or other images for another reason.
If you have symptoms that cancer has spread to your bones, you will get some tests.
You may have already had treatments for the main type of cancer you have. These treatments will continue. They may help stop or slow the growth of the cancer in your bones.
You may need surgery if a bone tumour causes symptoms. Surgery may be done to make a bone more stable and to keep it from breaking. It can also help with pain.
Radiation therapy is used for some bone cancers. It uses high-energy rays, such as X-rays, to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumours in the body.
You may have chemotherapy (chemo). Chemo is medicine that destroys cancer cells.
You may also get medicine to protect your bones, treat any bone pain, and make you more comfortable.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Andrea J. Evenski MD - Orthopaedic Surgery & Thomas M. Bailey MD - Family Medicine
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