Treating Breast Cancer That Has Metastasized Into The Bones: What You Should Know

Breast cancer is one of the types of cancer most commonly diagnosed and treated by doctors of oncology in the United States today. And while treatments for breast cancer have advanced so that many people who are diagnosed with the disease have a positive prognosis, sometimes breast cancer metastasizes anyway. When breast cancer metastasizes into the skeletal system (bones), many people do not know what to expect or how to proceed with treatments. If you or someone you love has metastatic breast cancer that has moved into the bones, you need to get to know the treatment options available. This way you have an idea of what you may expect in the future.


One of the first lines of defense when it comes to treating metastasized breast cancer is to perform one or several surgeries. If a patient has not already had a mastectomy to remove the breast tissue from which the cancer originated, this will likely be one of the surgeries performed. This is thought to help prevent the further spread of cancer to other areas and organs of the body. 

Surgery can also be performed to remove some of the metastases in the bones themselves. This is done to help with pain caused by the metastases in the skeleton as well as to prevent the bones from becoming compromised or in danger of collapsing and breaking. However, surgery alone will not treat breast cancer that has metastasized into the bones.

Chemotherapy and Radiation

Aggressive rounds of chemotherapy and radiation therapies are also often used to prevent the growth of new metastases as well as to slow or stop the spread of the cancer to other parts of the skeletal system. While many people are hoping that treatments will cure metastasized breast cancer, it is important to recognize that treatments focus on stopping further growth as much as possible but do not often eradicate the metastases completely.

Chemotherapy is a form of treatment that uses different combinations of drugs that are designed to target rapidly growing cells in the body and damage or kill those cells. Because cancerous cells are rapidly growing, this means chemo drugs will help to stop the growth and spread of tumors by destroying the replicating cells.

Chemotherapy is often administered in the oncologist's office or hospital intravenously so the drugs are circulating throughout the bloodstream immediately. Depending on how aggressively you and your doctor want to treat your cancer, you may be receiving chemo treatments frequently or just every once in a while.

Radiation therapy, on the other hand is more targeted than chemotherapy. The doctor will use intense light energy (essentially x-rays) to target metastases in the body directly. The light energy heats and damages the cancer cells in the metastases, also slowing their growth and sometimes even shrinking them or destroying them.

This form of treatment may be used for one or several metastases in the body and is often used on the larger or more rapidly growing tumors. Radiation therapy is often combined with the use of systemic chemotherapy to fight the spread of metastasized breast cancer in multiple ways at the same time.

Now that you have some idea of the treatments available for breast cancer that has metastasized into the bones, you can get started in your treatment process feeling better informed and more prepared.

For more information, contact Sturdy Memorial Hospital or a similar location.