Bony pains in stage 4 metastatic cancer reasons and treatment
Bone metastases are the third common site of cancer spread among patients with advanced cancers, they came third in order after lung and liver spread. The types of cancer that usually spread to bones are many such as Breast, Prostate, Lungs, Thyroid, Kidneys and Ovarian Cancers.
This article will discuss Bony Pains in Stage 4 Metastatic cancer, reasons and treatment.
In November 2019, an eminent oncologists from Poland published a research article on Bone Pain in Cancer Patients, Mechanisms and Current Treatment https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/20/23/6047
Collectively, Breast, Lung and Prostate Cancers, are responsible for almost 80% of cancers metastases to bones. The most common location of cancer spread to bones is usually at the spine (vertebrae) which makes 80% of the sites of spread, then comes the pelvic bones (40%), then long bones (usually the femur) 25% and lastly the skull (14%).
Usually, with the start of Bony Metastases, there is no pain, and so no symptoms, however, with the continued growth of bony metastases, the pressure created by the bony metastases triggers the pain which starts off as dull aching pain, then gradually increase in intensity and becomes agonizing pain that interferes with the sleep or the normal daily activities of the person.
At a later stage, when the bony metastases are so extensive, a pathological fracture ( which means breaking of bones with minimal effort or sometimes without a clear reason due to sever bony weakness) may develop with severe pain, incapacitation, and sometimes, damage to nearby structures such as nerves or vessels.
Pain due to bone metastases can be due to many reasons such as the direct pressure caused by the cancer itself on the bones as mentioned before, however, there are many other reasons causing pain such as nerve root compression, inflammation at the site of metastases, and the secretion of cytokines or chemicals that may induce pain and discomfort.
How to treat bony pains in metastatic cancer?
In Conventional Oncology, pain due to bony metastases is treated by pain killers (usually narcotics ) and palliative radiation therapy to the affected bones. The treatment is usually planned with a team of Radiation Oncologist, Medical Oncologist and Palliative Care physician. Sometimes, Pain specialists and Orthopedic Surgeons can be involved in the care of these patients if needed.
Naturopathic Doctors can help improve symptoms related Bone Metastases by using Natural approaches such as Acupuncture, Intravenous Infusion Therapy, Homeopathy and Lifestyle modification. Using Acupuncture to mitigate pains due to bone spread in cancer was proven by research published by a group of oncology researchers at the University of Minnesota and Medical College of Wisconsin in 2013, https://www.nccaom.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/Effect%20on%20Bone%20Cancer%20Tumors.pdf
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