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You may experience bone pain at some point in your cancer journey, particularly if you are battling advanced cancer. Bone pain can cause a dull or deep ache in a bone or bone region (e.g., back, pelvis, legs, ribs, arms). The pain may be worse at night or during activity, and can persist as the tumor grows.
Unrelieved bone pain can affect your eating, sleeping, activity, mood, and concentration. It can also slow your recovery from cancer treatment. Proper pain management can help you feel better so you can continue to participate in activities you enjoy most.
A common cause of bone pain is metastatic disease. Bone metastasis develops when cancer cells break away from a primary tumor and spread, usually through the bloodstream, to the bone.
Cancer cells that spread to the bone disrupt the balance of normal cellular activity, by which the bone is constantly being maintained, broken down, and rebuilt. This results in damage to the bone tissue, which can cause pain.
The following are some additional causes of cancer-related bone pain:
The bone is a common location to which cancer metastasizes. Some cancers that commonly spread to bones include: breast, lung, prostate, thyroid, and kidney cancers. Rarely, cancer forms in the cells of the bone (called primary bone cancer).
To determine if your bone pain is due to metastases, your doctor may order a bone scan. In a bone scan, a small dose of radioactive material in injected into a vein and travels through the bloodstream, where it then gathers in the bones and is detected by a scanner through nuclear imaging. Other tests, such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT/PET scans, can be used to monitor the effects of the metastases over time.
Treatment for cancer-related bone pain depends on many factors. Some treatments help to reduce pain by shrinking the tumor. Others aim to reduce the risk of bone fractures and complications from bone metastases.
Because of the complex nature of cancer-related pain, successful pain management usually involves a combination of techniques, such as the following:
NOTE: THIS INFORMATION IS NOT INTENDED NOR IMPLIED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS REPORT ANY SYMPTOMS OF CANCER-RELATED BONE PAIN TO YOUR PHYSICIAN IMMEDIATELY.
NOTE: THIS INFORMATION IS NOT INTENDED NOR IMPLIED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE. ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTHCARE PROVIDER REGARDING CANCER-RELATED BONE PAIN.
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