Bones provide structure to our body, anchor muscles, store calcium, and protect vital organs. There are so many roles that bones play, and all are important to ensure good health. Now, when an injury or disease occurs to the bone(s), the movements of the affected area in an individual become limited. Sometimes, the condition is severe enough to require surgical intervention for the treatment.
Bones could also get affected because of other health conditions occurring in our bodies. One such condition that occurs includes bone metastasis, and this will be our point of discussion in the post. Bone metastasis occurs in people who are suffering from certain types of cancers. Let us talk about that in detail.
Bone Metastasis – An Overview
Also known as osseous metastatic disease, bone metastasis is the condition that occurs when a primary tumor invades the bones. In other words, this condition arises when cancer cells break from their original position and starts growing on the bone. Any bone could get affected by this condition as you never know where the broken cancerous cells will fall. Epithelial tumors cause bone metastasis by creating a solid mass inside the bone.
Many problems arise when tumor cells affect bones, the most common being a pain in the bone and fractures. The cancers that have the highest chances of causing bone metastasis to include:
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Lung cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Ovarian cancer
Now, when it comes to the sites where bone metastasis is most seen, then the spine is at the top. Other sites may include:
Pain and broken bones are the common symptoms associated with the condition for which treatment is provided, but in most severe cases, the condition becomes incurable.
As per the studies, 2 types of cells maintain our bones namely:
Osteoblasts – They are responsible for the formation of new bones
Osteoclasts – They are responsible for the breakdown of old bones
Optimum functioning of both these cells is required to maintain strong and healthy bones. This is because both growth of new bone cells and the breakdown of older ones are necessary, and hence, osteoblasts and osteoclasts work in tandem.
Now, when tumor cells affect bones, the working of osteoblasts & osteoclasts gets affected as well. The rate at which they work either becomes high or low, and both situations badly affect bone health. This makes bones prone to getting fractured easily. Few other problems caused by the condition include:
If the spine is affected by bone metastasis, the spinal cord may be pressed down. If such a condition occurs, nerve damage will be on the cards. While on the other hand, if left untreated or delayed treatment is there, paralysis may be seen.
Another problem that may arise is hypercalcemia, and this occurs due to the release of excessive calcium in blood because of too much dissolving of bone.
Symptoms Associated with Bone Metastasis
Some of the common symptoms associated with the condition include:
- Pain in the bones
- Urinary incontinence
- Loss of bowel control
- Weakness in legs or arms
- Low blood cell count
Sometimes, bone metastasis is confused with bone cancer, but both conditions are different. Bone cancer is the condition where tumor cells originate in the bone itself. While on the other hand, bone metastasis is where tumor cells from a different cancerous site in our body spread to any bone and start multiplying there.
Diagnosis of Bone Metastasis
The diagnosis of the condition often starts with a complete medical history check and physical examination of the patient. During the diagnosis of bone metastasis, the doctor would also want to know any past incidences of cancer. Besides this, imaging tests also play an important role in confirming the exact location and severity of the condition. The tests ordered may include:
- CT scans
- Bone scans
- MRI scans
- Blood tests
Above all, a biopsy may be performed in certain cases to confirm whether the affected bone is a result of bone metastasis or a sign of primary bone cancer.
Treatment of Bone Metastasis
After proper diagnosis of the condition, the doctor decides which treatment methods will be feasible and which one will be the best. This totally depends upon the source of cancer cells, the location of the affected site, and the severity of the condition. Some of the common treatment procedures include:
Radiation therapy is given to slow down the growth of tumor cells multiplying on the bone. Different types of radiation therapy procedures that are used include:
Local Field Radiation – During this therapy, the doctor directs radiation at the tumor and surrounding tissues. This process is known to relieve pain in most cases.
Hemi-Body Radiation – This type of therapy is preferred when the person is suffering from multiple bone metastasis. In this case, radiation is directed at a large part of the body.
Radioisotope Therapy – In this case, venous administration of radioactive medicine is done.
Medication plays an important role in the treatment of bone metastasis, and here, one or more medicines may be prescribed by the doctor depending upon the condition of the patient. The medicines prescribed may include:
- Bone-building drugs to reduce damage to bones
- Chemotherapy to kill or reduce the size of cancer cells
- Hormone therapy
When the condition is severe or other treatment methods did not deliver expected results, surgery may be performed. This is also an option in case of fractures, or the chances of fracture anytime soon are there. In certain cases, surgery is also performed to remove the tumor.
During surgical intervention, orthopedic fixation devices like metal implant plates and screws are also used to stabilize the affected bone and ensure its correct placement while it heals. The type of orthopedic implant used will depend upon the affected location.
Siora Surgicals Pvt. Ltd. is one of the oldest manufacturers of international standard quality orthopedic devices in India. The company has numerous global clients, and it exports its entire range to different parts of the world. Siora is also known to be a reliable OEM/contract manufacturing service provider.