Skip to main content

Bone Metastasis

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

Bone metastasis is cancer that starts in one area and then spreads to a bone. Some examples are lung, breast, thyroid, prostate, and kidney cancers. Bone metastasis often happens in the spine, upper arm or leg bone, ribs, hips, or skull. Cancer that spreads to a bone can weaken the bone and increase your risk for fractures.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


  • Pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Steroids may be given to reduce pain caused by swelling.
  • Chemotherapy (chemo) is used to kill cancer cells.
  • Inhibitor medicines may be given to help destroy the cancer cells. One medicine helps your immune system kill the cancer cells. Another medicine makes cancer cells die by preventing them from being repaired. This helps keep cancer from progressing as quickly.
  • Hormone therapy may be used to reduce pain and to keep bone mineral density to help prevent fractures. Some hormone medicines may be used to prevent the cancer from growing.
  • Bisphosphonates help reduce bone pain, slow damage caused by the cancer, and reduce the risk for fractures.


  • An x-ray, CT, or MRI may be used to monitor the tumor. The pictures may also show missing bone or extra bone caused by the tumor. You may be given contrast liquid to help your bones show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious damage. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • A bone scan , or PET scan, may be used to check your bones. You will be given a liquid called a tracer. The tracer helps problems in the bones show up better in the scan. You may need more than one bone scan to check the tumor's growth over time.
  • Blood tests may be used to check for chemicals called tumor markers that are released by the tumor. The tests may also show if you have large amounts of calcium in your blood. Bone cancer can cause the bone to dissolve and release stored calcium.
  • A biopsy is a procedure used to take a sample of the tumor to be checked for cancer.


  • Radiation uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing quickly.
  • Targeted therapy is medicine used to kill cancer cells by destroying what is inside the cells. You may have targeted therapy along with chemo or radiation.
  • Surgery may be needed to prevent fractures. Screws, plates, or other devices may be used to help make the bone more stable. Surgery may also be used to help a fractured bone heal correctly. Bone cement may be used along with other treatments to strengthen the bone.


You are at increased risk for bone fractures. You may also develop muscle or nerve problems if the tumor presses on your spinal cord. Problems include weakness and paralysis that may be permanent. You may also develop hypercalcemia (high blood calcium levels) if the tumor dissolves the bone and releases calcium stored in the bone.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© Copyright Merative 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Bone Metastasis

Treatment options

Care guides

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.