Sometimes a cancer that started in one part of the body can spread (spread) to other parts, such as the bones. It is said, then, that the person has bone metastases. In this article we tell you what it is, what the symptoms may be and how it differs from bone cancer itself.
Rina, Manuel and Elsa have a bone tumor, but each of them is a different cancer. While Rina was diagnosed with bone cancer itself, Manuel had long had lung cancer, but since he had no symptoms, he can only notice it now that the cancer has spread to the bones. For her part, Elsa had been operated on for breast cancer years ago , and in one of the current check-ups she found out that the same condition has reawakened, now in her bones.
What is the difference between them? If the cancer is in the bone, why isn’t one the same as the other? This is because cancer is an abnormal cell formation that can appear anywhere in the body. In other words, different anomalous (abnormal) cell formations can develop, these are tumors or cancers, of which there are many. Based on where they first appear in the body (called the “primary site”), this will be the name given to the cancer. When those same cells appear in another site later because they have spread, they are already metastases.
Thus, for example, when Elsa underwent surgery 5 years ago, it was to combat cancer that had appeared in her breasts. Now, that same type of cellular deformation that she once had in her breast developed in her bones, more specifically in her back, just below her shoulder. Bone cancer is a metastasis of breast cancer.
Something similar happened to Manuel. At some point an abnormal cell formation (cancer) has developed in his lungs, although he had not realized it because he never felt pain or any warning signs. But now, those cells have grown and spread to the bones, where they did begin to cause him pain, and thus he was diagnosed with the problem (lung cancer and cancer metastatic to the bone).
This type of cell abnormality is different from the one Elsa has, and both are different from the one that appeared to Rina, who began to feel pain that would not go away and when she visited the doctor she found out that she has a type of bone cancer that does not go away. It is very frequent, which developed in the bones. This is a primary cancer of the bone, it has not spread to the bone.
The main symptom of bone (bone) cancer is pain in or near the bone that does not go away with time (although pain can be a sign of many things and not necessarily cancer).
Pain is also one of the symptoms caused by bone metastasis, which may come and go at first, which generally becomes more bothersome at night and disappears with movement, but over time it no longer disappears.
Sometimes bone metastases do not cause any symptoms. Other signs that there are bone metastases may be:
- Broken bones (because metastasis weakens it). The most common are in the leg, arm, and spine.
- Numbness, paralysis and urinary problems (due to the pressure of the metastasis on the spine).
- Loss of appetite, nausea, extreme thirst, confusion and tiredness, which may be caused by elevated calcium levels in the blood.
Treatment for bone metastases depends on many factors, such as the type of primary cancer, which (and how many) bones it has spread to, whether any bones have become weak or fractured, what previous treatments you have received, and your condition. overall health of the person.
There are also parallel treatments that, although they do not fight the metastasis, can help you calm the pain, from vitamins, special diets, acupuncture to radiation, among others. As always, everything should be under the supervision of your doctor.
There are certain types of cancer that, when they spread, are more likely to cause bone metastases. These are: the breast, prostate, lungs, thyroid and kidney. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, regardless of where you found it, it is best that you do not stop getting routine check-ups as indicated by your doctor.
And if you have any pain or any other discomfort, remember that this can be a symptom of many other things, but pay attention to your body and be sure to consult a specialist (the cancer specialist is the oncologist) so that they can get you out of trouble. doubt and offer you the best recommendation in your particular case. And, if you think it’s necessary, ask for a second opinion.