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Breast cancer

Metastatic Breast Cancer in Bones

  • June 9, 2021
  • 2 mins read

Metastatic breast cancer in the bones refers to cancer that occurs from breast tissue and has spread to the bones. A healthcare practitioner may also refer to metastatic breast cancer in the bones as advanced, stage 4, secondary, or distant breast cancer.

Metastatic cancer usually spreads beyond its occurring site to other parts of the body. In patients with breast cancer, a metastatic tumor forms when the cancer cells break away from the breast and gather in a different part of the body. The cancer cells may spread to different areas of the body, depending on the type of cancer.

Metastatic breast cancer may typically occur in bones, lung, brain and liver. The bones are the part of the body where metastatic breast cancer tumors most commonly occur. Any type of cancer may spread to the bones, but around 80% of bone metastases come from breast cancer, prostate cancer, or lung cancer.

Breast cancer metastases may form in any part of the skeleton, but the cancer usually spreads to bones in the spine, ribs, pelvis, arms, and legs. Metastatic tumors may occur in the bones before an individual is even aware that they have breast cancer. Apart from this, the metastatic tumors may not develop until years after an individual takes treatment for breast cancer.

Bone Metastasis Causes:

In case breast cancer metastasizes, it may be responsible for causing the tumor cells to grow and develop disruptive structures on the bones.

Bone remodeling, in which the new bone tissue replaces the old bone tissue to keep the body strong, is a crucial process that occurs throughout an individual’s life.

Metastatic cancer in the bones is responsible for affecting the process of bone remodeling. The tumors that form on the bones either can be osteolytic (reduced bone tissue), or osteoblastic (increased bone production).

Bone Metastasis Diagnosis:

Bone metastasis symptoms may include bone pain, fracture from bone weakness, and nerve compression. 

If an individual is having symptoms and thinks that they might have bone metastasis, they must contact a healthcare practitioner for a diagnosis.

In order to diagnose bone metastasis, the healthcare practitioner typically performs at least one imaging scan. The possible imaging tests may include:

  • MRI scan
  • CT scan
  • PET scan
  • X-ray
  • Bone scan

The bone metastasis may be responsible for causing increased calcium as well as alkaline phosphatase (ALP) levels. Thus, a healthcare provider may test for higher levels than usual using a blood test.

In addition, a biopsy may help in order to determine whether an individual has bone metastasis. In this case, with guidance from a CT scan, a healthcare professional will use a needle in order to collect a tissue sample from the cancerous affected area of the bone. 

Bone Metastasis Treatment options:

Bone metastasis treatment options considered in order to control the cancer by reducing or stopping its growth, as well as minimizing the symptoms through palliative care. The goal of a treatment plan will determine an individual’s treatment options.

Doctors usually prescribed bone-strengthening drugs including pamidronate, zoledronic acid, and denosumab. These drugs are believed to help by reducing the likelihood of skeletal related events (such as fractures), relieving pain, and reducing the need for the other treatment options (such as chemotherapy). 

Certain other treatment options include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Surgery
  • Complementary or Holistic medicine

NOTE: The piece of information provided in this article about “About Metastatic Breast Cancer in Bones” is just for informational purposes and is not served as a substitute for the medical treatment, consultation, diagnosis, of an experienced or qualified healthcare practitioner.