The symptoms of secondary bone cancer commence when the disease has spread within the tissues of the bone or to other parts of the body. Learn more about the causes, signs and treatment options for this illness.
Bone cancer consists mainly of two kinds of types, one being malignant in nature where the cancer cells multiply and spread within the bone’s tissues and the second kind known as metastasis where the cancer cells spread from other infected organs to the bones, as it branches out and conquers the cells within the bone mass. Cancer types like prostate, lung, kidney and breast are those that may affect the body’s bones, targeting the skull, spine, arms, ribs, legs, or pelvis.
Bone cancer breaks up into two broad terms, one being primary cancer, and the other being secondary cancer, with the latter being the kind that other organs’ cancer cells metastasize to the bones, as a result of a primary cancer. The secondary bone cancer symptoms in humans come forth in a cascading display of mild to severe effects that people experience once the disease sets in, progressing as time lapses if not treated subsequently.
Causes and Symptoms of Secondary Bone Cancer
The bone tumors that develop over time, are branched under different types namely (primary tumors) – multiple myeloma, osteosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, osteoclastoma and chondrosarcoma, and secondary tumors which are a result of the spread of cancer cells from the adjacent soft tissue neoplasm, which is malignant in nature from already existing benign lesions. Health problems of a cancerous nature that develop into a secondary type of cancer which is then seen as a rapid progression of these cancerous cells, needs immediate treatment upon detection.
The symptoms of this disease when evident, have to be checked out without a moment’s haste, because as these reach a state that is too severe for the body to handle, the patient suffers extreme pain as a result.
- Tumor formations that occur around the joints are tender to one’s touch.
- Bones tend to fracture on their own without the cause of an accident, leading to what is known as a pathological fracture due to weakened bones.
- Because secondary bone cancer can affect the spinal cord, this is known as spinal cord compression, causing symptoms such as numbness in certain limbs, a tingling sensation, weakness felt in the muscles and pain. The pressure applied to the nerves of the spinal cord is what brings about these particular symptoms. When the lower spinal area is affected, bladder and bowel functions can also be affected.
- Prone to falling ill, easily bruised or revealing signs of bleeding.
- Bone marrow blood cell production is hampered, making it easy for one to fall prey to infections.
- There is pain felt around certain areas, especially when one’s muscles are relaxed. It can be a recurring pain that causes swelling for days and even weeks.
- Weight loss that is unexplainable.
- Paralysis / numbness due to pressure applied on the spinal cord.
- Fatigue due to the depletion of blood cells, causing one to turn anemic.
- Calcium levels in the blood increase, also known as hypercalcemia. This can lead to feelings of constipation, nausea, dehydration and tiredness.
- Feeling confused
- Formation of kidney stones is also linked to high levels of calcium.
Treatment Available for Secondary Bone Cancer
One has a varied number of treatment options that will help lessen the effects of the damage, or aid in completely eradicating the source and the cancer cells involved.
This option is given in order to help stunt the growth of the cancerous cells, thereby destroying them from further causing damage and spreading to healthy cells. Another type of chemotherapy that comes into play that is unlike the old method, is fractionated dose chemotherapy, which is where patients are administered small dosage amounts of the drugs, over a planned period of 3 – 5 days to fight against the cancerous cells and lessen the extremity of effects under chemotherapy.
There are different kinds of radiation therapy methods, one being external beam radiation, where a linear accelerator is used to directly target cancer cells in the affected area using direct radiation. The second kind is TomoTherapy Highly Integrated Adaptive Radiotherapy where an oncologist in the radiation department looks hard to find tumors causing the detriment, and targets these individually. The third kind is 3D conformal radiation where tumors are targeted and destroyed, whilst causing minimum damage to healthy cells.
Traditional methods of radiation therapy usually involve the destruction of healthy tissue in the surrounding area, but there is one kind that has been successfully known to help patients when suffering from secondary bone cancer, namely intensity modulated therapy which is very much like the previous type of radiation, but staying clear from damaging healthy tissue more than any other method. The survival rate highly depends on which stage of the cancer the patient is in.
Secondary bone cancer is a painful, and very serious illness if gone untreated or undetected over time. It is important to always check one’s family history for the same, since these are hereditary in nature.