What is Bone Metastasis?

Metastasis is the spread of a cancer from the body part where it started (primary tumour) to other parts of the body. Cancer cells can break away from a tumour and travel to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system (immune system). The most common form of bone tumours is bone metastases, which is secondary to a primary cancer somewhere else in the body.

Some people with metastatic tumours do not have any symptoms. When symptoms occur, their type and frequency depend on the size and location of the metastasis. For example, cancer that spreads to the bone is likely to cause pain and can lead to bone fractures.

Treatment of metastasis depends on several factors:

  • Size, location and number of metastatic tumours
  • Type of primary cancer
  • Types of treatment the patient has had in the past
  • Patient’s age and general health

Metastatic cancer may be treated with:

  • Combination of systemic and local therapy
  • Local therapy — surgery, radiation therapy
  • Systemic therapy — chemotherapy, biological therapy, targeted therapy, hormonal therapy

The goal of metastasis treatment is to relieve the symptoms and control the growth of the cancer. In some cases, treatments for metastasis may help prolong life.

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