Cancers Affecting the Bone
What are the treatments for the disease?
Removing a small tumor may offer long-term control of primary bone cancer. Radiation therapy may be offered once a small tumor is removed. This may help slow the return of the tumor. Primary bone cancer that has spread to other parts of the body may be treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy is used to treat bone pain in a person who has bone metastasis. Radiation to the affected areas can also prevent further weakening of the bones. The total dose of radiation that can be given is limited, however. Chemotherapy is sometimes used to help control the underlying cancer.
Some bone metastases cause calcium to leave the bone. This weakens the bone even more. Medicines known as bisphosphonates can be given to help keep the calcium in the bone. Bisphosphonates may also help strengthen bones. This approach is commonly used in advanced breast cancer and multiple myeloma. Other therapy, such as pain medicines, will be given to help improve a person's quality of life. Surgery may be done to pin weakened bones and make them stronger.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
The side effects experienced by a person with primary bone cancer depend on the treatment given. Surgery to a bone may affect the movement of the bone. The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the particular medicines given but may be significant. Radiation therapy also has several side effects, including short- and long-term damage of healthy tissue.
Bisphosphonates can cause stomach upset, but they are usually well tolerated. Pain medicines can cause allergic reactions and stomach upset. Surgery may cause bleeding, infection, or allergic reaction to anesthesia.
What happens after treatment for the disease?
The person who has primary bone cancer will need to be followed closely to watch for any signs that the disease has come back or gotten worse. A person with a bone metastasis will be monitored for bone fractures or further spread of the cancer.
How is the disease monitored?
Regular CT scans may be done to monitor the cancer. Bone scans will generally be used to monitor a person with known or suspected bone metastases. Regular X-rays may be used to monitor suspected problems from multiple myeloma. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.