Protecting Your Body When You Have Bone Metastasis

Bone metastases - or bone "mets" - occur when cancer travels to the bone. It can have a big impact on your day-to-day life. Bone metastases can weaken bones, putting your body at risk for fractures and other problems. Fortunately, some simple changes at home, plus treatment and a healthy lifestyle, can reduce these risks. Here's what you need to know.

4 Small Changes to Protect Your Bones at Home

How to Protect Your Bones With Medicine

As careful as you may be, you need medical treatment to help prevent fractures and other bone problems when you have bone metastases. First, your doctor will treat your primary cancer, the one that spread to your bones. Your doctor may also suggest starting bisphosphonate therapy as soon as possible to reduce the effects of bone metastasis on your body. In addition to preventing the breakdown of bone, these drugs often help with pain relief.

Your doctor may prescribe an osteoclast inhibitors, such as bisphosphonates or denosumab (Xgeva). This is a monoclonal antibody that interferes with cancer’s ability to break down bone. You receive it by injection under the skin every four weeks.

How to Protect Your Bones With Procedures

Your doctor may recommend radiation to kill cancer cells in the bones.(EBRT) is a standard approach for symptomatic skeletal metastases, achieving pain reduction in 50 to 80 percent, which is complete in up to one-third of patients. or with radiopharmaceuticals, which are given by injection and release radiation to many different areas of bone.

Another procedure called cryoablation uses extreme cold to kill cancer cells. Your doctor might also recommend a noninvasive procedure that uses MRI scanning to focus ultrasound energy in order to destroy nerve endings around the tumor and provide relief from pain.

If bone metastasis has already caused collapsed vertebrae in your spine, specialists can do a vertebroplasty to fill the space with bone cement and relieve pressure. Similarly, if a bone has broken and is causing pain, a surgeon can insert a device such as a screw, a rod, or a plate to stabilize the bone.

For patients with bone metastases, supportive care should include adequate analgesia (typically opioids, with or without an analgesic adjuvant). Also Interventional pain specialists may help relieve pain using procedures such as nerve blocks when opioid analgesics are maximized. Doctors have found that Focused Ultrasound (FUS) can be effective in treating palliation of pain resulting from bone mets.

Treatment and lifestyle changes cannot cure bone mets. But they can be very effective at reducing your risk of bone fractures and greatly enhancing the quality of your life.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Gabriela Pichardo on November 10, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Calcium and Bone Health."

American Cancer Society: "What's new in breast cancer research and treatment?"

Office of Dietary Supplements: "Vitamin D."

The Bone and Cancer Foundation: "Questions and Answers About Breast Cancer, Bone Metastases, & Treatment-Related Bone Loss."

Medscape News: "Effects of a Structured Weight-bearing Exercise Program on Bone Metabolism among Breast Cancer Survivors: A Feasibility Trial."

NIAMS: "Smoking and Bone Health."

American Cancer Society: "Bone Metastasis Overview."

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