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Bone Metastases

What are Bone Metastases?

Bone metastases occur when cancer from another organ has spread to the bone.

Often, bone metastases are detected in patients with Cancer of the thyroid gland, lung cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer, or prostate cancer.

Patients with advanced-stage cancers are more likely to develop bone metastases.


What are the symptoms of Bone Metastases?

Bone metastases may not always be associated with symptoms. A few signs and symptoms that may point towards bone metastases may include:

  • Bone pain - often well localized, progressive pain that does not respond to rest and painkillers, pain at night
  • Personal or family history of cancer
  • History of symptoms related to the possible site or nature of the primary tumor
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite or unintended loss of weight

It is strongly advised to get these signs and symptoms checked by a specialist orthopedic surgeon. In the best-case scenario, something turns out to be harmless and reassurance can be provided.

If there is any suspicion for something more sinister, it is best to know about it early as certain treatment options depend on early diagnosis.


How are Bone Metastases diagnosed?

Establishing the correct diagnosis is paramount in musculoskeletal oncology. If the initial diagnosis is wrong, inadequate decisions in further management of the disease and treatment will follow.

Cancers of the soft tissues (soft tissue sarcomas) are not very common. A high clinical suspicion by the healthcare professional is necessary to detect these rare malignancies.

Establishing the diagnosis might involve various steps such as:

  • Taking the patient’s medical history
  • Having a thorough physical examination
  • Using various imaging modalities
  • Blood tests
  • Taking tissue samples from the tumor (biopsy)

A biopsy is needed, when there remains doubt of the underlying disease. The goal is to confirm the diagnosis.

Establishing the correct diagnosis is paramount in musculoskeletal oncology. If the initial diagnosis is wrong, inadequate decisions in further management of the disease and treatment will follow.

Reviewed by Dr. Gurpal Singh, Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon, Centre for Orthopaedics and Hip and Knee Surgery

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