Cancer That Spreads to the Bones

Metastatic bone cancer begins in another organ or tissue and spreads, or metastasizes, to the bones. It is more common than cancer that starts in the bones and is the third most common place for cancers to spread from other parts of the body. Cancer typically spreads to the bones of the spine, pelvis, ribs, skull, upper arm and leg.

Almost any cancer can spread to the bones, although the most common include:

  • Breast cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Thyroid cancer

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Metastatic bone cancer is usually found after feeling pain in the area of the cancer. Other symptoms include:

  • Anemia
  • Bone fractures
  • Pain
  • Weakness in arms or legs

To diagnose metastatic bone cancer, the experts at Penn State Health may use several types of imaging technology including X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a computed tomography (CT) scan. Other tests include:

  • Bloodwork
  • Image-guided biopsy to analyze bone tissue

Your outlook will depend on the type of cancer that has spread, the location of the bone cancer and extent of the metastases. New treatments are being developed for bone metastases through clinical trials that can improve your quality of life and advance treatment options.

Experts in Care

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Top-Ranked by U.S. News & World Report

Penn State Health includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, ranked as one of the best orthopedic providers in the country by U.S. News & World Report. This honor was earned because our doctors consistently deliver exceptional patient care and outcomes through their commitment to advanced treatments, translational research and provider training.

Coordinated, Specialized Care Through a Dedicated Institute

Our orthopaedic specialists work together through our dedicated Penn State Bone and Joint Institute. There, they focus on providing you with multidisciplinary, tailored care and state-of-the-art treatments and technologies. This produces the highest-quality patient outcomes. All physicians at the institute are fellowship-trained and subspecialize in additional niche areas of orthopaedics, including arthritis care and joint arthroplasty (joint replacement surgery).

Designated as a Blue Distinction® Center

Penn State Bone and Joint Institute is a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement. This superior designation from BlueCross BlueShield is only given to health care facilities and providers that stand out for their expertise in delivering specialty knee and hip replacement care. Our surgeons specialize in a range of pain-relieving procedures, including partial knee replacement, total joint arthroplasty, joint preservation surgery and complex revision surgery. They perform more than 1,000 joint replacement procedures every year.

Confidence in Treatment Through Education

We developed a special joint replacement education website just for patients undergoing joint arthroplasty. The website takes you step by step through the joint replacement process. From things to consider before choosing surgery to recovery after surgery, you’ll find the information you need to help you feel confident in your decision to undergo joint replacement.

Advancing Orthopaedic Medicine Through Research

The doctors and researchers in our Center for Orthopaedic Research and Translational Science at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are committed to advancing our field through scientific discovery and education. As the only academic medical center in central Pennsylvania, Hershey Medical Center is a national leader in research, in partnership with Penn State College of Medicine, and on the leading edge of new treatment options, including clinical trials.

Support Groups

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