Metastatic bone disease occurs when cancer of an organ (often the lungs, prostate, thyroid, or breasts) spreads beyond that organ and into the skeleton. When bone metastasis happens, patients are often referred to the orthopedic oncology specialists, like Greater Dallas Orthopaedics, to seek consultation and treatment.
It’s that surgeons with tenured experience in this area create a strategic treatment plan to minimize the impact on the patient, remove the cancer if possible, and stabilize areas of bone to prevent fracture. In this blog, we’ll be discussing five elements of palliative care and treatment undertaken when a GDO patient suffers from metastatic bone disease.
While not an actual mode of treatment, a biopsy is always the first step in the treatment process. When it is suspected that a patient is suffering from metastatic bone disease, a biopsy is critical in confirming that diagnosis.
An immediate risk to an individual confirmed to have metastatic bone disease is bone weakness and fracture. In some cases, a metastatic tumor has destroyed enough of the bone that it is structurally unsound. Often in those instances, we employ prophylactic fixation, which involves a metal rod being placed via a minimally invasive procedure to stabilize the bone so that a fracture does not occur.
Similarly, and most often when a bone tumor has destabilized the pelvis, we opt for cementoplasty. This is a process of injecting bone cement into tumors to provide support. This, in combination with radiofrequency ablation and radiation, provides optimal results.
Beyond the stabilization of affected bone areas, we work to minimize the tumor itself. If traditional radiation has proven ineffective, we proceed to radiofrequency ablation. This involves thermal energy being used to kill cancer cells. This is minimally invasive and, in addition to being used in tumors where radiation has been unsuccessful, it is also employed for painful tumors in high-risk areas. As we mentioned above, this treatment is often combined with cementoplasty to provide optimal results.
Resection, or the complete removal of the tumor itself via surgery, may be used to treat bone metastasis. Survival benefit has been shown to occur with resection of certain types of cancer, including renal cell carcinoma, thyroid carcinoma, and melanoma. The decision to resect a metastasis is reached judiciously and should be made by the medical and orthopedic oncologist.
It’s our hope that this article helped to increase your understanding of how metastatic bone tumors are treated at Greater Dallas Orthopaedics and practices like it. To learn more about how bone metastasis occurs, we encourage you to read our posts about both breast cancer bone metastasis and prostate cancer bone metastasis.