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What Happens To Cancer That Spreads To The Bones?

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Mar 18, 2023

What Happens To Cancer That Spreads To The Bones?

What happens to cancer that spreads to the bones? Early diagnosis is critical to achieving the best outcomes and treatment for cancer. Cancer may originate in one organ or location, but can spread to other parts of the body. As cancer progresses, affecting more tissue and organs, cancer treatment becomes more challenging. How do you know that cancer has spread, most especially in bone? Learn more here.

What are the Symptoms? 

Symptoms of cancer that has spread to your bones include:

  • A bone ache
  • Bone fragility can cause breaks
  • High calcium levels in your blood
  • The spine is compressed

Tell your doctor if you experience bone discomfort, even if it is not ongoing. Early intervention may prevent the breakage of the bone.

Bones weakened by metastatic cancer are more prone to breaking when you fall or are injured. Additionally, weak bones might break when you’re just going about your day without any sort of trauma. You may find it difficult to move because of the pain from a break.

When cancer spreads to the spine, it can compress the spinal cord, injuring nearby nerves and causing numbness or issues with bladder or bowel control. You might become paralyzed if you don’t get treatment.

If you experience any of the following, cancer may have spread to your bones and calcium from the bones has entered your bloodstream:

  • Feel numbness or back discomfort
  • Have sudden difficulty walking
  • Lost control of your bowels or bladder


Your doctor can perform tests to determine whether cancer has spread to your bones. You could have blood testing to determine your calcium levels. An X-ray, body scan, and/or MRI can help your medical team see and better understand the condition of your cancer.


You cannot be cured of cancer that spreads to your bones. However, with the right treatments, you might be able to live longer, reduce your pain and other symptoms, and enhance your quality of life. There are ways to handle some of the issues that arise, so having cancer that has gone to your bones does not mean you should stop receiving therapy altogether.


With cancer that spreads to your bones, your doctor has a few alternatives. Your medical team may work to strengthen your bones before they fracture or may repair fractured bones. They may do the following:

  • Prescribe medications to help with bone pain and bone strength.
  • Radiation therapy can be used to relieve bone pain and reduce the likelihood that the bone will fracture.
  • During surgery, add additional support to a bone’s weak spot by inserting a metal rod or other device.
  • Inject bone cement into a bone that is fragile.
  • Provide chemo, radiation, targeted therapy, or other treatments.
  • Try heating or freezing a tumor in your bone to make it smaller.
  • Encourage you to enroll in a clinical study where experts are testing the most recent medical advancements.
  • Painkillers may enhance your quality of life and facilitate movement.
  • Drugs can lower your blood calcium levels if they are exceedingly high. Symptoms (such as nausea or extreme thirst) may subside if things return to normal.

Guidelines for Bone Care

You might need to adjust how you move. If you have a weak bone, your doctor may advise using crutches or a walker. To safeguard your spine, you might have to wear a back brace. Even though cancer that spreads may weaken your bones, you can maintain a somewhat active lifestyle if your doctor offers physical therapy.

Learn more about Cancer here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Mar 18, 2023

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