Bone Metastases Can Be a Complication of Breast Cancer

Bone Metastases Can Be a Complication of Breast Cancer
Approximately one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer. Fortunately, death rates from breast cancer are currently on the decline, due to improved recognition, prevention, and treatment. It is important, however, for women to recognize not only the primary complications of breast cancer but also the possibility of secondary complications, such as tumor metastases. Metastases refers to cancer that has left the primary tumor and spread to other regions of the body. The bones are a common place for cancer to travel and spread. Symptoms of bone metastases can include bone pain and fractures. The pain tends to worsen at night and improves with movement. Anemia is another possible complication of bone metastases, since bone marrow produces red blood cells. High blood calcium levels or high levels of alkaline phosphatase can indicate to physicians that bone metastases has occurred. To diagnose the condition, doctors can also take images of the bones, using X-rays or other types of scanning such as MRI, CAT, or PET. A physician may also have a bone biopsy performed to confirm the diagnosis. There are several treatments for bone metastases. Treatments can include radiation therapy, surgery, or chemotherapy. Hormone and immune therapies are additional possibilities. They may be local treatments or could treat the entire body (systemic). The treatments tend to be chosen based upon how much cancer has spread, whether bones are weak or broken, and the woman's general health. Treatments can reduce bone pain and improve activity levels. Treatments may
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