Other bone disorders have symptoms similar to that of bone metastasis. Some patients may have these disorders prior to having their cancer spread to the bone.
Arthritis is a condition that can cause joint pain or swelling and often limits a person's ability to get around. Arthritis is a very common and usually chronic condition, and most people find that making changes to their daily activities helps them to better cope with the disease. People of any age can have this condition, but usually more women than men suffer. Symptoms for arthritis include joint swelling, stiffness, and pain. The pain can be felt all or some of the time, and may occur with certain activities but not with others.
When cancer originates in the bone, it is referred to as primary bone cancer. Therefore, bone metastasis and bone cancer are not the same. Bone cancer is considerably less common than metastasis to the bone. As with bone metastasis, most people with bone cancer experience symptoms of pain. Swelling and tenderness can result if the tumor is located near a joint. Bone tumors are most often found in the bones of the arms and legs, and most of these are benign and so they do not spread to other areas of the body. Primary bone tumors can be either benign or malignant. Benign bone tumors are more common in children. Malignant primary bone tumors more often occur in children or young adults, but they can also occur in people of any age.
Osteoporosis, meaning "porous bones", is a condition where the body loses large amounts of bone. As a result, the bones become weak and fractures can occur. Most osteoporotic fractures occur in the hip, spinal column, and wrist. These fractures are often painful and can limit a person's ability to get around. With spinal fractures, patients can have back pain and a decrease in height.
The spinal column can also become deformed and lead to a condition called dowager's hump. However, osteoporosis is not limited to these specific bones and can occur in any part of the skeleton. Most of the people who have osteoporosis are women over the age of 50, but men can also suffer from this condition. It is especially difficult to distinguish bone metastasis from osteoporosis for older women with breast cancer.
It is important for cancer patients to know that many of the symptoms for bone metastasis are common to other medical conditions as well. Therefore, diagnosing your symptoms is not clear cut or easy. The symptoms associated with the normal process of aging can also complicate the diagnosis. It is best to be aware of your body and share any concerns with your doctor. Together you can work to find a treatment that is appropriate for your medical condition.
The nurses at Cancer AnswerLine™ have answers. Call 1-800-865-1125 and you'll get a personal response from one of our registered nurses, who have years of experience in caring for people with cancer.