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

Multidisciplinary Team Approach

The musculoskeletal oncology team combines the expertise of a multidisciplinary team for diagnosis, treatment and reconstruction of tumors affecting the musculoskeletal system of both children and adults. The team is composed of fellowship-trained subspecialists from orthopaedics, radiology, pathology, adult and pediatric oncology and radiation therapy.

Innovative Treatment Options

The team at Penn State Health uses many innovative treatment options, including limb-sparing procedures and soft tissue reconstruction. More than 150 surgical procedures for musculoskeletal tumors are performed each year at Penn State Health.

Support Groups

Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other patients and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles.

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Convenient Locations

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