Experiencing Odd Aches and Pains? When to Ask About Most cancers and Metastatic Bone Illness
A sore bone. Constipation. Strong thirst. While these symptoms may not seem to have anything in common, they can all indicate more serious conditions, including metastatic bone disease (MBD).
Many cancers that start in one place can spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body. If it spreads to the bone, it’s called MBD.
MBD occurs in both men and women. In women, up to 75% of cases are caused by estrogen receptor (ER) positive breast cancer, which is cancer cells that grow in the presence of the hormone estrogen. In men, 65% to 90% of prostate cancer cases are from prostate cancer. Combined breast and prostate cancer account for more than 80% of MBD cases, although tumors derived from the lungs, kidneys, or thyroid gland can also migrate to the bone.
Talk to your doctor about your symptoms
MBD is viewed as a common but very serious complication of cancer that puts patients at risk for skeletal complications known as skeletal-related events (SREs). These events can affect quality of life and increase medical costs and the risk of death. If you have cancer and experience pain, tenderness, or pain that seems to be localized in a bone, contact your doctor right away. In addition to the pain that is often the first symptom of MBD, check for the following symptoms:
- Fractures (pathological broken bones): Weak bones can cause fractures resulting from a fall or injury, but also from everyday activities. However, pathological fractures are caused by disease. They usually appear in the long bones of the arms and legs and can cause severe pain.
- Constipation, nausea, loss of appetite and other symptoms: When calcium is released from the bones into the bloodstream, it can cause constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, confused or altered mental status, and intense thirst. High levels of calcium in the blood, also called hypercalcemia, can increase urine production and lead to dehydration, weakness, and tiredness.
- Compression of the spinal cord: Increased growth of cancer in the spine can press against the spinal cord and cause compression of the nerves, resulting in numbness and weakness in the lower body, pain or stiffness in the neck, back or lower back, paralysis, problems with urinating, and lack of urination Bowel movement.
Advocate that you get proper care
If you experience symptoms related to SREs, ask your doctor about the following approaches to diagnosing MBD. Depending on the location and severity of the pain, MBD can be diagnosed by:
- X-ray or radiography
- Bone scans
- CT scans (computed tomography)
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
- PET (positron emission tomography)
- Blood test that measures increased levels of alkaline phosphatase (an enzyme found in bone) and calcium levels to confirm hypercalcemia
- Bone biopsies are done to confirm MBD
What to do after getting a diagnosis
Diagnosing MBD can be daunting, but a doctor can talk to you about your prognosis and the treatment options available. Since SREs can significantly affect a patient’s quality of life, the main goal of your treatment is to prevent SREs. Clinically proven treatment options include:
- Bone therapiesthat use bone targeting agents, a class of drugs that prevent bone density loss by reducing bone turnover. There are several types of agents / medications that can reduce fractures and slow the spread of cancer. It is therefore important to ask about your options when talking to your doctor.
- Cancer therapiesB. Chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and hormone therapy are systemic treatments that affect the entire body. Although they are not specifically targeted at MBD, they can be used as part of your treatment plan.
- Local treatments can be targeted to a specific area of the body that needs immediate attention and relieves pain or other symptoms. Types of local treatments can be:
When you understand all of your options, ask your doctor the following key questions:
- What treatment options will best affect my bone health?
- Are Bone Targeters a Good Treatment Option for Me?
- Will systemic or localized treatments work better for me?
- What are the side effects of these treatments?
- How do these treatments improve my quality of life?
Regardless of the prognosis you get, the only thing you should know is that a proactive search for treatment will help you maintain a high quality of life for as long as possible.
Learn more about MBD by visiting the American Cancer Society, the Komen Foundation, the National Cancer Institute, and the Prostate Health Education Network.
This resource was created with the assistance of Amgen Inc.