Breast cancer spreads to the bone more commonly than to other places in the body.1
7 of 10
women with advanced metastatic breast cancer develop bone mets3
Review important facts about bone mets that can help you start a conversation with your doctor.
Cancer cells can break away from the original solid tumor and travel through the bloodstream or lymph (pronounced limf) system. Sometimes cancer cells settle in a new location and begin to grow. When solid tumor cancer spreads to the bone, those tumors are called bone metastases (pronounced muh•TASS•tuh•seez)–or "bone mets." 1
Bone mets are tumors growing in bone. As the tumors grow, they can weaken and destroy the bone.1 Bone mets can lead to serious bone problems. Serious bone problems are defined as1:
When solid tumor cancer spreads to a new place in the body, it has the same type of cancer cells as the original tumor–and therefore the same name.2 For example, breast cancer that spreads to the bone is still breast cancer, not bone cancer.
When breast cancer spreads to bone, it is called metastatic breast cancer. The same is true for prostate cancer: when prostate cancer spreads to the bone it is called metastatic prostate cancer. Tumors that result from cancer spreading to the bone are called bone metastases or "bone mets".
In fact, bone cancers are very different from bone mets and are much less common than bone mets.1
If you or a loved one develops bone mets, don't wait for bone pain before asking the doctor about steps for preventing serious bone problems. Serious bone problems are defined as broken bones (fractures), a need for surgery to prevent or repair broken bones, a need for radiation treatments to the bone, or pressure on the spinal cord (spinal cord compression).1 In some cases, a broken bone is the first sign of bone mets.1 So remember, bone pain is not always a reliable predictor of the risk for serious bone problems.4
There are bone-targeting medicines available to help prevent the serious bone problems caused by bone mets from solid tumor cancers. These medicines work to slow down the bone damage caused by cancer and lower the risk of serious bone problems. Serious bone problems are defined as broken bones (fractures), a need for surgery to prevent or repair broken bones, a need for radiation treatments to the bone, or pressure on the spinal cord (spinal cord compression).1
Ask your doctor about your treatment options and about the risks and benefits of treatment. Risks of treatment include low calcium levels in your blood (hypocalcemia) that could be life-threatening, severe jaw bone problems (osteonecrosis), unusual thigh bone fractures (atypical femoral fractures), and possible harm to your unborn baby.1