Primary bone cancer is relatively rare accounting for less than one per cent of cancer cases. Bone cancers are a result of abnormal cells in bone tissues that result in abnormal growths on bone tissues in the body. If left untreated, bone cancer spreads to multiple bones throughout the body and to a number of other tissues that have a number of harmful effects. Some of the symptoms of advanced bone cancer are:
- Broken bones on account of progressive bone weakening as the cancer growth eats away at healthy bone tissue resulting in bone demineralisation and brittleness – this in turn leads to bone breakage on account of slight injuries when performing day to day activities. Patients need to take drug therapy to arrest bone demineralisation and prevent further bone breaks.
- Paralysis when the cancer metastasises to the vertebrae that surround the spinal cord. When the bone growth occurs on account of cancer it places stress on the spinal cord, causing paralysis. Damage to the spinal cord can be irreparable, but doctors today use vertebroplasty to stabilise the bones and prevent further damage.
- Breathing difficulties when the cancer spreads to the air sacs in the lungs. This may result in build-up of fluids in the lung causing partial lung collapse; flow of air into the lungs is disrupted, leading to extreme difficulty in breathing in advanced cases. Cancer surgery and radiation therapy may help lung functioning and bring relief.
In the US as many as 60,000 persons suffer from serious problems when cancer has progressed to the bone from other organs in advanced stages of bone cancer.
Prognosis of advanced bone cancer and life expectancy is determined by a number of different factors. The lesions that occur in this stage are noticed in older persons who have reached the age of 50 and beyond.
The chances of survival are much higher when the bone cancer tumour has not been allowed to grow by doctors’ interventions and become more aggressive at an advanced stage; but this does not always occur. In a large number of cases, persons afflicted with advanced bone cancer end up with progression that has occurred to other organs that have cancers.
Life expectancy of metastatic bone cancer is expected to be within 6 to 48 months. When this happens with either breast or prostate cancer metastasis to the bone, life expectancy can be even lower. The survival rate of patients, who have thyroid and renal cell carcinoma, can vary from one patient to another.
Orthopaedic surgeons may recommend a biopsy on a lesion of the bone that has been discovered by various scans or by the patient’s own evaluation. The sooner this is done, the chances of hypercalcaemia, or metastasis to the bone marrow can be prevented to better the life expectancy.
To sum up - Afflicted people suffer from advanced bone cancer on account of abnormal cells that grow and cause tumours to appear in bones of the body. This results in various symptoms such as broken bones, because of bone demineralisation, paralysis by affecting the spinal cord and breathing difficulties from partial lung collapse. The lesions that occur in this stage of cancer affect older persons above 50.
The sooner a bone biopsy is done, the chances of hypercalcaemia and metastasis to the bone marrow can be prevented, improving life expectancy.