WHAT ARE BONE METS?

When cancer spreads from the original tumor to the bone, those tumors are called bone metastases (pronounced muh•TASS•tuh•seez)–or "bone mets." 1

HOW DOES CANCER SPREAD TO BONE?

Cancer cells can break away from the original tumor and travel through the bloodstream or through lymph (pronounced limf) vessels. Much like blood vessels, lymph vessels form a network of thin tubes that branch into all tissues of the body.1,2

After breaking away from the original tumor and traveling throughout the body, many cancer cells die without causing any problems. However, some cancer cells settle in a new location and begin to grow. While cancer can spread to nearly all tissues of the body, bone is one of the most common sites. When cancer spreads to the bone, the tumors are called bone metastases, or "bone mets." 1


Bone is one of the most
common sites for
metastasis  in  cancer1
 

ARE BONE METS THE SAME AS BONE CANCERS?

Bone meta are not bone cancers. Bone cancers start in the bone, just like breast cancer starts in the breast and prostate cancer starts in the prostate. In fact, bone cancers are very different from bone mets and are much less common than bone mets.1

WHICH BONES GET BONE METS?

The most common sites for bone mets include1:

  • Spine
  • Upper arm bone
  • Hip bone
  • Ribs
  • Upper leg bone
  • Skull

WHO IS AT RISK?

Certain kinds of cancer are more likely to spread to the bone. Bone mets are especially 
common in breast, prostate, lung, thyroid, and kidney cancer.1


BONE METS AND
BREAST CANCER

About 7 of 10 women with advanced metastatic breast cancer develop bone mets3

 
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BONE METS AND PROSTATE CANCER

About 7 of 10 men with advanced metastatic prostate cancer develop bone mets3

 
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BONE METS AND
LUNG CANCER

About 4 of 10 people with advanced metastatic lung cancer develop bone mets3

 
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REFERENCES:
  1. American Cancer Society. Bone metastasis. American Cancer Society website. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003087-pdf.pdf. Revised February 17, 2014. Accessed May 5, 2015.
  2. National Cancer Institute. NCI dictionary of cancer terms: lymphatic system. National Cancer Institute website. http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary?CdrID=45764. Accessed May 13, 2015.
  3. Galasko C. The anatomy and pathways of skeletal metastases. In: Weiss L, Gilbert HA, eds. Bone Metastasis. Boston, MA: GK Hall; 1981:49-63.