Story by: Rebecca Hall on February 28, 2019
Metastatic bone disease, or metastatic cancer to the bone, is a secondary bone cancer that originates somewhere else in the body and then spreads to the bones. Metastatic cancer commonly starts as breast, lung, kidney, or prostate cancer.
When cancer cells spread to the bones from other areas, the cancer cells in the bones resemble the cancer cells from the original cancer site. The cancer is treated with the same medications or therapies used to treat the original cancer. However, an orthopedic oncologist can offer additional relief and treatment to patients when cancer spreads into the bones.
“Fracture is the initial presenting symptom of cancer in some. I diagnose many new cases of cancer each year in patients admitted through the emergency department with atypical or low energy fractures ,” said George Calvert, M.D., orthopedic oncologist for Norton Cancer Institute, and orthopedic surgeon for Norton Orthopedic Institute.
In addition to bone fractures, Dr. Calvert said bone pain is the most common symptom of metastatic bone disease. Patients are commonly referred by their medical and radiation oncologists for the evaluation of painful bone lesions. Surgery is frequesntly performed to alleviate pain and prevent fractures.
According to Dr. Calvert, secondary bone cancer is much more common than the primary bone cancers known as sarcomas, which originate in the bones.
Consider these statistics from the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society:
Learn more about bone cancer types, signs and symptoms of bone cancer, diagnosis and treatment.
Dr. Calvert said treatment for metastatic bone disease involves repairing the affected bone through surgery using metal plates, screws, rods or joint replacement.
“My role as an orthopedic oncologist is to fix or replace the damaged bone,” said Dr. Calvert. “The goal of treatment is to improve the patient’s quality of life so they can spend their time engaged in activities that are important to them.”
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