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External Beam Radiation Therapy For Bone Metastasis


  • External beam radiation can be used to treat one or more cancer tumors, or it can be used to help stop cancer cells from spreading. Radiation is a very strong x-ray that has a beam of energy. The energy beam is pointed towards areas of the body that have cancer. This therapy is used with other treatments such as medicines, chemotherapy and surgery. When cancer spreads (metastasis) from one area of your body to your bones, it is called bone metastasis. Cancer that spreads to your bones can be painful and place you at a higher risk of breaking your bones.
  • External beam radiation therapy can decrease pain caused by bone metastasis. This treatment may be done after surgery to decrease pressure on nerves caused by cancer that has spread to your spine. It may also be done after surgery to repair your bones, or make them more stable. Radiation therapy after surgery can help prevent more surgery, and may help you be more active. If you have many tumors that cannot be removed, radiation therapy may be used to destroy the tumors. Your pain may decrease or go away within two days of a radiation treatment. In some people it may take two weeks or longer for the pain to go away.


Take your medicine as directed.

Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.
  • Blood transfusion: After hemibody or large area radiation treatment, you may need to get whole blood or parts of blood through an intravenous line (IV). Blood banks test all donated blood for AIDS, hepatitis, and West Nile Virus. The risk of getting AIDS, hepatitis, or West Nile Virus from a blood transfusion is rare. A blood transfusion can keep the level of hemoglobin in your blood normal. Hemoglobin helps carry oxygen through your body.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

  • Ask your caregiver when you need to return for blood tests or more radiation treatments.

Skin care:

External beam radiation therapy may make your skin red and very dry. Your skin may also get moist. It may begin to bleed, and start to peel off. Ask your caregiver if you should do the following to care for your skin:

  • Wash your hair and scalp gently with a mild shampoo.
  • Wash your skin gently with mild soap. Do not scrub your skin. Pat yourself dry with a towel instead of rubbing your skin.
  • While bathing, do not soak for a long time as this can make your skin drier.
  • Ask your caregiver what type of lotion or cream would be best for you to use on your skin.

Eating well with cancer and cancer treatment:

Good nutrition can:

  • help you feel better during treatment and decrease treatment side effects
  • decrease your risk of infection
  • help you have more energy and feel stronger
  • help you maintain a healthy weight and heal faster
Eat a variety of healthy foods to get the protein, carbohydrates, and other nutrients that your body needs. You may need to change the foods you eat depending on your treatments and side effects. You also may need to eat more calories than usual. Work with a dietitian to plan the best meals and snacks for you. Ask if you should add vitamins to your diet.


  • You cannot make it to your radiation treatment on time.
  • The skin over the area that was treated is bleeding or peeling off.
  • Your pain is worse after having radiation therapy.
  • You feel sick, are throwing up, or have loose watery bowel movements after your radiation treatment.
  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.


  • You have a fever, chills, and body aches after your radiation treatment.
  • You have fallen, and your arm, leg, or another part of your body is swollen, painful, or does not look the same as it did before.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
  • You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may cough up blood.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

Further information

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

Learn more about External Beam Radiation Therapy For Bone Metastasis (Aftercare Instructions)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex