Metastatic Bone Cancer is a malignancy that originates in different locations or organs of the body and eventually spreads to the bones. A study published in Bonetumor.org (2009) - on metastatic tumours in bone - revealed that more than 90 per cent of metastatic bone cancers are caused by a small number of primary tumours including breast, lung, and kidney, prostate and thyroid. There are various symptoms that arise as a result of metastatic bone cancer.
According to National Cancer Institute, the type and frequency of symptoms for metastatic bone cancer depends upon the size and location of the tumour. Normally, patients with metastatic bone cancer experience symptoms such as bone pain, fractures, spinal cord compression, high calcium levels in their blood and low blood cell count. Although prognosis of metastatic bone cancer is poor, it can be diagnosed through a series of tests, such asx-rays, CT, MRI and bone scans.
Patients with metastatic bone cancer can be cured through a combination of treatment options. Metastatic bone cancer treatment generally depends upon type, size, location and stage of bone cancer. The age and overall health condition of the patient also needs to be taken into account.
Dr. Vipul Sud - from the Core Cancer Foundation, New Delhi - suggests a variety of metastatic bone cancer treatment options like chemotherapy, bisphosphonates, radiation therapy, hormone therapy and surgery. This guide will inform you about these procedures in detail:
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is deemed as the main treatment for metastatic bone cancer. This treatment utilises drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body. The drugs are usually administered intravenously or orally. It shrinks the size of tumour and minimises the severity of pain. Hair loss, increased chances of infection, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting are some of the common side effects of chemotherapy.
- Hormone Therapy: This type of metastatic bone cancer treatment helps in controlling the growth of cancer cells. It utilises drugs that restrict hormones from reacting with cells that promote cancer growth.
- Radiation Therapy: High energy rays are directed to destroy the cancer cells in the area of the bone tumour. The main purpose of radiation therapy is to cease the growth of cancer cells so they don’t multiply. A study - conducted by the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Centre - revealed that radiation therapy is beneficial not only in reducing bone cancer pain, but also lessening the chances of fractures.
- Surgery: Surgical treatment is yet another metastatic bone cancer treatment that is done to restore the function of the bones. Surgery involves removing the whole or part of the tumour to stabilise the bone to prevent bone fracture. Metal plates, rods, screws, wires, nails, pins or prostheses are used to strengthen and provide structure to the bone.
- Bisphosphonates: Bisphosphonates are drugs that minimise the risk of fractures and reduce the pain. They slow down the damage caused by metastatic bone cancer. These drugs are available both in oral and intravenous forms.
Besides the above mentioned metastatic bone cancer treatments, certain complementary treatments are also available that help patients to improve their life quality. Acupuncture, counselling, stress management, relaxation techniques, nutrition therapy, energy therapy, physical exercises, and spiritual support are some of the complementary metastatic bone cancer treatments.
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