Secondary bone cancer is caused due to the spread of malignant cancer from other parts of the body to the bone. The cancer which starts from the bone is called primary bone cancer..
Seconday bone cancer is triggered by other cancers such as prostate, lung or breast cancer. The symptoms of secondary bone cancer are bone fractures, pain, hypercalcemia and spinal cord compression. The treatment for the condition aims to extend relief to the patient from pain, reduce the effected number of cells and the level of calcium in the blood.
The new research of the National Cancer Institute (2010) found a link between genes and bone cancer. A common gene has been found by researchers at the University of Toronto, which links the genetic mutation of specific genes to bone cancer, but it is restricted to certain types of bone cancer. These studies conducted for secondary bone cancer have identified certain markers which raise the probability of spreading the tumour to the bones.
Some of the secondary bone cancer treatments are:
- Hormone therapy: A number of hormone therapies are given to people suffering from secondary bone cancer and one of the commonly used drugs for therapy is tamoxifen.
- Chemotherapy: It may take a long time for patients to respond to chemotherapy and many patients require many cycles of the treatment to get effective results.
- Radiotherapy: The treatment using radiotherapy helps the patient to improve mobility and reduce pain. It also helps in reducing the effect of fractures and the side effects of radiotherapy aren’t as harsh as forms of treatment.
- Drug: The common drug used for secondary bone cancer treatment is bisphosphonates. It helps in reducing the calcium level in the human body and in reducing pain. Long term use of the drug helps in reducing the risk of bone fractures and also restricts cancer from spreading to other parts of the body.
To diagnose the condition, bone x-rays, bone scans, MRIs, blood tests and bone marrow biopsies are used. The treatment depends on a number of factors such as which bone is affected, the symptoms, the condition and cause for primary cancer. However, patients in an advanced stage may show no response to the regular treatment and drugs. Experts suggest such patients should take therapies for reducing pain and to increase their life-span.
The American Cancer Society - along with prominent university hospitals - are conducting clinical tests with new drugs, to find an effective treatment for secondary bone cancer which may include a combined therapy of drugs, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. As patients suffering from secondary bone cancer may undergo serious emotional trauma, depression and anxiety, they are advised to seek counselling by psychologists to prevent undue depression and reduce emotional pain.
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