Continuing our series chronicling the most common forms of cancer that metastasize in bone, we’ll be discussing lung cancer bone metastasis. Lung cancer represents roughly 13% cancer diagnoses in the U.S. each year, occurring more often than prostate cancer but less often than breast cancer. However, lung cancer accounts for more annual deaths than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined, according to the American Cancer Society.
Because of the volume of lung cancer diagnoses and the length of time in which patients with lung cancer undergo treatment, it’s the third most common cancer that metastasizes in the bone.
As always, this information is meant to be purely educational and is no substitute for tangible medical advice. If you or a loved one is suffering from lung cancer and is concerned about the possibility of bone metastasis, consult your specialists immediately.
Lung cancer bone metastasis occurs when an individual suffering from lung cancer has that cancer spread to the nearby areas of bone. Among lung cancer patients, between 30% & 40% will suffer from bone metastasis during the course of their treatment.
The most common symptoms include pain and swelling in a bone. The most common areas affected by lung cancer bone metastasis are the upper bones of the arms & legs, the pelvis, and the spine. With the spine, in particular, lung cancer bone metastasis may cause pain while walking and weakness/tingling in the legs.
Less overt symptoms include increased nausea, constipation, and weakness.
Bones gradually become very weak, making fractures more likely to occur. With the underlying bone being weak, these fractures can happen with minimal injury or trauma. A fracture through a tumor, as is common with these cases, is called a pathologic fracture.
This really depends on what part of the body is impacted by the fracture. If the fracture takes place in a lower extremity, surgery is often required to preserve the ability to walk and function as well as possible.
Upper extremity fractures do often call for surgery as well, though not quite as often. Lastly, if a fracture or bone destruction occurs around a joint as a result of metastasis, joint replacement may be the best option.
If the lung cancer metastasizes in the spine, surgery will be considered much more cautiously.
Yes, in some cases if a large tumor is discovered by a surgeon, they will utilize a prophylactic fixation to prevent fracture. Other treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation, or medications that strengthen the bone.
Additionally, there are many resources online that discuss the steps one can take to maintain the greatest possible bone health while undergoing lung cancer treatment. While this will not prevent bone metastasis, it can help to mitigate the likelihood of a fracture or serious injury.
We encourage any patient with a painful metastatic tumor to have themselves evaluated by an orthopedic oncology specialist, like the team at Greater Dallas Orthopaedics. Having treated more of these patients than anyone else in the DFW region, we have the expertise to treat bone metastasis through minimally invasive, cutting-edge treatments tailored to suit each patient’s unique needs. The goal of treatment is to return the patient to maximum pain-free activities as quickly as possible.
While lung cancer bone metastasis may be an alarming diagnosis, our team of experienced orthopedic oncology professionals is here to help. Greater Dallas Orthopaedics provides insight, support, and innovative treatment strategies to ensure you or your loved one is equipped to return to function as promptly as possible.
Reach out to GDO today to learn more.