Bone Cancer Secondary Treatment

Most bone metastasis treatment involves treating the original cancer that caused the bone metastases (also known as mets).

Treatment depends on:

  • Cancer treatments already received
  • The location, size and stage of the bone metastases
  • The type of cancer that caused the bone metastases
  • Whether any bones are weak or broken
  • Your age, overall health and symptoms.

Chemotherapy

According to the American Cancer Society (2010), chemotherapy is the main treatment for many types of metastatic cancers. Chemotherapy often shrinks tumors, which helps you feel better and have less pain.

Chemotherapy drugs are administered intravenously or by mouth. Because the drugs enter the bloodstream, they kill both cancer cells and some normal cells, which can cause side effects. Depending on the type, dosage and duration, common side effects of chemotherapy include:

  • Hair loss
  • Increased chance of infection
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting.

Radiation

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays directed at the cancer. However, radiation also destroys some surrounding normal cells, causing unpleasant side effects. Radiation reduces both bone pain and the risk of fractures.

A possible alternative to traditional external radiation is radiopharmaceutical therapy. Rather than using external radiation directed at the cancer, the doctor injects active metals that give off radiation particles directly into the bone. This localized radiation can kill cancer cells without harming normal cells, while also decreasing pain.

Although this therapy decreases platelet and white blood cell production in some people during treatment, radiopharmaceutical therapy has fewer side effects than external radiation or chemotherapy.

Surgery

In most cases, surgery can restore the function of the original bone. The type of surgery depends on the location and size of the bone metastasis tumor. Surgery typically involves removing all or part of the tumor and stabilizing the bone to prevent future breakage.

If the bone is fractured or about to fracture, surgery could include placing metal plates, rods, screws, wires, nails, pins or prostheses to strengthen or give structure to the bone. Reconstructive surgery is available if the bone has already been destroyed.

Other Treatments

Other metastasis treatment options include:

  • Bisphosphonates: Breast cancer and myeloma patients with bone metastases may receive drugs called bisphosphonates, usually given intravenously. They decrease the risk of fractures and reduce pain. These drugs are different from chemotherapy and are commonly used together with other treatments.
  • Hormone Therapy: For cancers whose growth is promoted by hormones (such as estrogen for breast cancer or testosterone for prostrate cancer), hormone therapy is a possible treatment. The treatment may involve removing a woman’s ovaries or a man’s testicles but more often, drugs can stop the organs from making the hormones or prevent the hormones from acting on the cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy: This treatment helps the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Immunotherapy used to treat patients with metastatic cancer includes cytokines, monoclonal antibodies and tumor vaccines.

Complementary Bone Metastasis Treatment

You can use complementary treatments along with regular bone metastasis treatment to help you feel better. Complementary treatments include:

  • Acupuncture to help relieve pain
  • Counseling
  • Energy therapies
  • Nutrition therapy
  • Peppermint tea to relieve nausea
  • Physical therapy and exercise
  • Spiritual support or support groups
  • Stress management and relaxation techniques, such as guided imagery or meditation.

Secondary Bone Cancer Prognosis

According to the American Cancer Society (2010), secondary bone cancer prognosis is that treatment often shrinks bone mets and relieves symptoms, but bone mets are usually not curable. Everyone responds differently to treatment, and your healthcare provider can monitor your condition and make the best choices for your situation.

Resources

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2007). Metastatic bone disease. Retrieved October 7, 2010, from http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00093.

American Cancer Society. (2010). Bone metastasis. Retrieved October 4, 2010, from http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BoneMetastasis/DetailedGuide/index.htm.

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. (2010). Bone metastasis: Treatment. Retrieved October 7, 2010, from http://www.cancer.med.umich.edu/cancertreat/tissue_bone/bonetreat.shtml.