Metastatic breast cancer in bones: Things you need to know

Cancer that started in the breast tissue but has spread to the bones is known as metastatic breast cancer in the bones. Metastatic breast cancer in the bones can also be referred to as advanced, stage 4, secondary, or distant breast cancer by a doctor.

Males may be affected by breast cancer, which is the second most common cancer in women. When breast cancer grows, it has the potential to spread to other areas of the body, a process known as metastasis. The bones, brains, lungs, and liver are all popular locations for breast cancer metastasis.

A diagnosis of bone metastasis from breast cancer may be alarming. People will be able to maintain a decent quality of life with the right treatment.

The causes, diagnosis, and treatment options for metastatic breast cancer in the bones are discussed in this article. We also think about how people with the disease will do in the future.

What is it?

Metastatic breast cancer

Cancer that has spread beyond its original location to other areas of the body is known as metastatic cancer. Metastatic cancer is also referred to as stage 4 cancer by doctors.

A metastatic tumour forms in women with breast cancer when cancerous cells break away from the breast and clump together in another part of the body.

Depending on the form of cancer, the cells may spread to various parts of the body. The following are some of the most common locations where metastatic breast cancer occurs:

  • bones
  • lung
  • brain
  • liver

The bones are the most popular site for metastatic breast cancer tumours to develop. Any form of cancer can spread to the bones, but breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer account for 80% of bone metastases.

Breast cancer can spread to any part of the skeleton, but it most commonly affects the bones in the:

  • spine
  • ribs
  • pelvis
  • arms
  • legs

Before an individual is even aware that they have breast cancer, metastatic tumours may grow in the bones. Metastatic tumours, on the other hand, may not appear for years after an individual has received breast cancer treatment.

Causes

Breast cancer metastasizes to the bones, causing tumour cells to expand and develop disruptive structures.

Bone remodelling is a vital process that happens during a person’s life, in which new bone tissue replaces old bone tissue to keep the body healthy.

The phase of bone remodelling is affected by metastatic cancer in the bones. Bone tumours may be either osteolytic (which means they decrease bone tissue) or osteoblastic (which means they cause bone development to increase).

Diagnosis

The following are some of the signs and symptoms of bone metastasis:

  • bone pain
  • fracture from bone weakness
  • nerve compression

If a person is having symptoms and believes they might have bone metastasis, they should seek medical advice.

When assessing for bone metastasis, doctors typically use at least one imaging scan. Imaging tests that can be used include:

Calcium and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) levels can rise as a result of bone metastasis. As a result, a doctor can use a blood test to check for higher levels than normal.

A biopsy can also be used to decide whether or not an individual has the disease. A doctor will use a needle to extract a tissue sample from the potentially cancerous region of bone in this case, guided by a CT scan. The sample will be examined for signs of cancer by lab technicians.

Treatment

Bone metastasis is almost always fatal. As a result, most treatment options concentrate on slowing or halting the cancer’s progression, as well as mitigating symptoms through palliative care.

The treatment services available to an individual are determined by the treatment plan’s target.

Bone-strengthening medications such as pamidronate, zoledronic acid, and denosumab can be used by certain individuals. These medications can help in the following ways:

  • lowering the chances of skeletal-related events like fractures
  • reducing pain
  • reducing the need for more aggressive treatments like chemotherapy

Other treatment options include:

When people are looking for treatment options, they can come across clinical trials, which provide opportunities that aren’t yet widely accessible.

Outlook

Metastatic cancer of the bones can cause a person’s quality of life to deteriorate, and it can be fatal. However, some people enjoy a complete and long life after being diagnosed with cancer.

The following factors influence a person’s outlook:

  • how far the cancer has spread
  • whether people experience skeletal-related events, such as bone fractures or spinal cord compression
  • whether people use treatment to reduce tumors

According to some research, people with metastatic bone cancer have a 40–59 percent one-year survival rate. According to the American Cancer Society, women with distant breast cancer have a 28 percent higher chance of living for at least another 5 years than those who do not have the disease.

According to a 2017 Danish survey, the 1-year survival rate for people with metastatic bone cancer when it starts in the breast is significantly higher, at 51%, than when it starts in the lungs or prostate. After a diagnosis of metastatic cancer in the bones, most people live for 12–33 months, according to the authors.

Management

The type and severity of symptoms an individual experiences are determined by the size and location of metastatic tumours within the body.

Some people may opt to supplement their care with complementary and holistic medicine, such as acupuncture, meditation, and hypnosis.

These techniques can help a person’s symptoms to be less severe and improve their quality of life, but they should not be used in place of medical treatment. If a person decides to use such techniques, they should inform their doctor.

Assist

Cancer may bring up a wide spectrum of feelings, but no one should have to go through it alone. Counseling, support groups, pain clinics, and other resources are available. A doctor may be able to advise an individual on the options available in their region.

Conclusion

Via the process of metastasis, breast cancer may spread to the bones. Metastasis usually occurs during stage 4 cancer, but it can occur at any time after a person discovers they have breast cancer, often years after they have recovered.

Treatments for cancer control and reduction, as well as symptom relief, are available. These may help a person with bone metastasis live a longer and more prosperous life by extending and improving their quality of life.

Sources

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