General Questions to Ask Your Physician and Potential Answers
Bone metastases aren’t the same as bone cancer. Bone metastases are formed from cancerous cells that start elsewhere in your body. So, bone metastases could, for instance, be cancerous breast tissue, or another type of tissue somewhere in your body, that has started growing inside the bone tissue.
For cancer cells to spread to other parts of the body, they have to go through many changes:
They have to be able to break away from the original (primary) tumor and get into the bloodstream or lymph system, which can carry them to another part of the body.
At some point they need to attach to the wall of a blood or lymph vessel and move through it, out into a new organ.
They will then grow in their new location. All the while, the cancer cells need to be able to avoid attacks from the body’s immune system. Going through all these steps means the cells that start new tumors may no longer be exactly the same as the ones in the tumor where they started, but they will still be called the same name. For instance, breast cancer that spreads to the bone is called metastatic breast cancer, not bone cancer.
Your doctor will perform a full medical history and physical exam, including a discussion of any past incidence of cancer. They can then order several tests, including:
X-rays of the affected bone
bone scans to see if other bones are affected
If your doctor needs to determine whether the affected bone is the result of a bone metastasis or a primary bone cancer, they may perform a biopsy. During a biopsy, they’ll remove a small amount of the tumor and send it to a pathologist for a thorough examination.
Possible Questions to Ask About Your Case
Questions You Can Ask About Your Treatment Options
Questions Your Doctor May Ask You