Sometimes cancer cells from a tumour in another part of the body can spread to the bones and make a new 'secondary' tumour in the bone.
A primary bone cancer is a cancer which starts and develops in the bone. Sometimes, cancer cells from a primary tumour elsewhere in the body can break away from that tumour and spread to the bones via the bloodstream or lymphatic system.
This forms a secondary bone cancer, which is a tumour in the bone originating from elsewhere in the body. The spread of cancer to other areas of the body is known as metastasis and is a large factor in patients’ survival aspects.
The main symptoms of secondary bone cancer include:
Raised calcium levels in the blood; this can cause dehydration, confusion, vomiting and constipation
Low number of red blood cells, which can cause anaemia
Low number of white blood cells, which can result in a higher number of infections, bruising and possible bleeding
When doctors are testing for a primary tumour they will investigate if the tumour has spread elsewhere in the body and developed a secondary cancer.
The most common primary tumours that can spread to the bones and cause secondary bone cancer are located in the:
However, it is possible for any type of cancer to spread to the bone.
As secondary bone cancers are made up of different tumour cells than that of a primary bone cancer, the treatment and management of secondary bone cancer is very different from primary bone cancer.
If you are looking for information about secondary bone cancer, or its treatment, you will need to find information about the primary cancer site (i.e breast, prostate, lung, thyroid, kidney etc).
Feel free to contact us if you require any further information.