How to Treat Lung Cancer with Bone Metastasis?

Lung cancer can spread to other parts or organs of the body, causing secondary cancer. Theoretically, it can spread anywhere. But in its metastatic stage, it is likely to spread to lymph nodes, liver, adrenal glands, brain, and bones. Lung cancer with bone metastasis can be painful. How to treat it? Here are some helpful explanations.

Understanding secondary bone cancer in general

The original site where a cancer started is medically called as primary cancer. Over time, the cancer cells can break away from the primary tumor and go into the bloodstream or/and lymphatic system. Eventually, they may travel to other parts of the body, where they can cause a new cancerous tumor growth called secondary cancer.

image_illustration382In this section, the primary cancer is lung cancer. And the secondary cancer is cancer from lung that spreads to the bones (secondary bone cancer).

When lung cancer spreads to the bones, it can be more painful and weaken them. Weakened bones are relatively easier to become fracture and break.

Lung cancer is not the only one. There are other many cancers that can spread (metastases) to the bone. Some of them include cancers of prostate, breast, kidney, and thyroid.

Knowing that your cancer has affected other parts of the body is likely to bring up lots of different feelings. In general, advanced cancer means the worse prognosis of the disease. Even it’s almost impossible to cure the disease.

However, each case of cancer is unique. There is no any statistic or formula that can tell you exactly what will happen. Finding out about ‘your metastatic lung cancer and the treatment options you need to take’ can help you to feel more in control & better able to cope!

How to treat lung cancer with bone metastasis

Your bones are composed by living tissue that constantly changes to keep your bones healthy. Osteoclasts are specialized cells that play a key role to break old bone. Osteoblasts are other specialized cells to build new bone.

Both osteoclasts and osteoblasts work together to regulate the breakdown and growth of bone in balance (a process called bone remodeling which is naturally well controlled), so thus you have healthy and strong bones. But secondary bone cancer can release particular chemicals that interfere with this balance.

The imbalance is likely to cause damage and make your bones weaker and easier to break. At the same time, this change makes the bone release more calcium in the blood, causing raised blood calcium.

Although if your lung cancer has spread to the bones, but the treatment is still focused to treat the primary cancer. But this doesn’t mean that the secondary cancer is left untreated.

Along with the main treatment plan, additional treatments are needed to treat the secondary cancer. This usually has two main goals.

The first goal is to help control secondary bone cancer and prevent it from developing. Second, it is also used to help manage the symptoms (especially such as bone pain, fracture, and raised calcium levels) and strengthen the bones.

There are some treatments to choose from. The common choices include radiotherapy, bisphosphonates, and desonsumab.

Radiotherapy

As the name suggests, it uses the radiation of high energy similar to X-rays to help kill cancer cells. It can widely target cancer cells and therefore it is often used for advanced cancer. It is not only used to kill cancer cells and control them, but also helpful to control bone pain due to secondary bone cancer.

If necessary, your doctor may need to use other treatments such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or biological therapy. How about surgery?

Sometime surgery may be used to help strengthen weakened bones or fix a fracture. But in general, it is rarely used for secondary bone cancer.

Bisphosphonates

These medicines can help reduce the risk of bone damage and fracture due to cancer. It is also helpful to ease bone pain.

Furthermore, other cancer treatments (such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy) can weaken the bones, too. These are some reasons of why bisphosphonates are required, particularly true if your lung cancer has spread to the bones.

What else? Some bisphosphonates are used to reduce the risk of osteoporosis (bone thinning) in people with cancer. It can also help reduce high calcium in the blood, a common problem of secondary bone cancer.

Some studies have confirmed that the use of bisphosphonates can slow down or prevent the development of secondary bone cancer. How do these medicines work?

It seems that cells of cancer are attracted to grow in the weakened bone environment or where bones are being broken down. Some experts believe that preventing the bones from damage could inhibit the growth of cancer in the bones, as well as strengthening the bones.

There are some types of bisphosphonates. But currently, the way of how they work is not fully understood yet. But it’s clear that they can: