Bone Metastasis Symptoms

Pain is the most common symptom and usually the first symptom that patients notice. Pain is most often felt at the site of the metastasis, which is referred to as localized pain. There are also cases where patients experience pain in areas surrounding the metastasis.

Depending upon the location of the metastasis, the pain may vary. Bone metastasis patients often describe the pain as gradually increasing over a period of time and becoming more severe. Patients with metastases to the spinal cord often have pain or discomfort that is worse at night or with bed rest. However, those patients with lesions involving the long bones, such as the arms and legs, have pain with activity or movement. In this case, some relief is usually achieved with rest.

It is important for you to know that not all pain means metastasis. Your doctor may be able to help you to tell the difference between bone metastasis pain and normal aches and pains or pains from other sources. It is important to talk with your doctor about any pain or discomfort that you may be having.

Bone Fracture

Too much force or stress on a bone will lead to fracture. A fracture is a medical term used to describe a broken or cracked bone. Bone metastases can weaken your bones and put you at risk for fractures. Not all patients will fracture bones, but it is important to be aware of that possibility. Impending fractures describe those bones that are about to break. If found early, your doctor may be able to treat the bone to keep it from breaking.

Bone metastasis patients need to remember that their bones are frailer, and they may need to be more careful when performing daily tasks. Although regular exercise is generally helpful, it is important to ask your doctor if you should change or stop doing certain activities.

Spinal Cord Compression

If the secondary tumor is located in the spinal area, it can result in spinal cord compression. Spinal cord compression occurs when the tumor squeezes the spinal cord. This can lead to back pain or make walking painful and difficult. Other symptoms might include numbness and weakness in the legs, problems with the bowels or bladder, or numbness in the abdominal area.

Other Symptoms

Patients can experience a number of other symptoms if bone metastases affect the bone marrow, which usually occurs in those who have received extensive chemotherapy or radiation therapy. If your level of red blood cells drops, you might become anemic and have symptoms of fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath. Patients whose white blood cells are affected may be more likely to have infections, which could cause fevers, chills, fatigue, or pain. Lastly, if your platelet count is low, you may have abnormal bleeding. The symptoms vary depending upon the type of blood cell affected.

Have questions?

The nurses at Cancer AnswerLine™ have answers. Call 1-800-865-1125 and you'll get a personal response from one of our registered nurses, who have years of experience in caring for people with cancer.

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