How Fast Does Bone Cancer Spread?

Bone cancer is just like any other cancer and develops when the cells divide uncontrollably and start spreading. The cancer cells can develop in any bone of the body. The commonly affected bones are the pelvis or long bones of the legs and arms. 

Non-cancerous bone tumours are more common than Cancerous bone tumors. Among all the cancers, bone cancer is the rarest. It accounts for about less than 1% of all cancers

Bone cancer is of two types. Primary bone cancer is the cancer cells that develop in the bones. The second one is secondary bone cancer which means the cancer cells have developed somewhere and have started to spread to the bones. 

Primary bone cancer has several types and is more common in children while some in adults. You will observe various symptoms after the bone cancer develops in your body but the most early symptom is bone pain. 

Several treatment and therapy options are also available to cure bone cancer. Read this post to find out the ways you can use to cure your bone cancer. 

How Fast Does Bone Cancer Spread? 5 Best Treatment Options
Photo by: Nino Liverani / Unsplash Copyright 2017

1. What are the Symptoms of Bone Cancer?

Some people with bone cancer experience no symptoms in the beginning stages other than a painless lump. While others might experience few symptoms. 

So, the following are some of the common symptoms that a person with bone cancer might experience:

1.1 Bone Pain which might get worse at night.

1.2 Fever

1.3 Extra tiredness in the body

1.4 Difficult to move around

1.5 Unexplained swelling

1.6 Weaken bone, might result in bone fracture

Remember that these mentioned symptoms might indicate other diseases, such as lymphoma. 

2. What Are The Causes of Bone Cancer?

The actual cause of the bone cancer is yet unknown. But certain types of bone cancer have been found linked with heredity factors while other types of bone cancer happen because of previous radiation exposure. 

3. How Fast Does Bone Cancer Spread?

The speed of spreading bone cancer in the body is determined by its stage. Bone cancer has four stages. Each stage of bone cancer is explained below for better understanding. The higher the stages the faster and further the cancer spreads. While the lower stages result in a slower spread of cancer and have the possibility of less likely to spread. 

For example, chondrosarcoma bone cancer spreads slowly or is less likely to spread in lower stages whereas in high stages of chondrosarcoma, the cancer cells develop and spread quickly. 

4. What are the Four Stages of Bone Cancer?

Tumor size is commonly measured in either cm or inches. Healthcare providers usually use various fruits to show the actual size of the tumors. For example, a pea (1cm), a peanut (2cm), a grapefruit (10cm), and so on. 

4.1 Stage I: Bone Cancer

In the beginning stage, the cancer cells are still in the bones and the bump or tumour is low. This is further subdivided into two types:

Stage I (A): The size of the tumour is less than 8 centimeters. The grade might be G1 which is the lowest grade or GX which means the grade can’t be determined.

Stage I (B): The tumour size is more than 8 cm or multiple cancer cells can develop in the same bone. Similarly to the other type, the grade either can be G1( low grade) or GX (undetermined grade).

4.2 Stage II: Bone Cancer

In the second stage, the cancer cells are still in the bones but the tumour has a high possibility to be in high grade. Stage II cancer is subdivided into two types:

Stage II (A): The size of the tumour is less than 8 centimeters but the tumour is in high grades either G2 or G3

Stage II (B): The size of the tumour is more than 8 centimeters but in high grades (either G2 or G3)

4.3 Stage III: Bone Cancer

The cancer cells are still in the affected bone but they are in high grades. The cancer cells have spread to the other parts of the same bone. These tumours are of G2 or G3 high grades

How Fast Does Bone Cancer Spread? 6 Important Symptoms
Photo by: MART PRODUCTION / Pexels Copyright 2021

4.4 Stage IV: Bone Cancer

The fourth stage of bone cancer is the most advanced stage of the disease. This is the last stage of bone cancer, indicating that cancer cells have progressed to spread from the initial tumour to other parts of the body. 

The tumour can be of any size at this final stage of bone cancer. The cancer cells also have spread to the lymph nodes. Further, stage four is subdivided into two types:

Stage IV (A): The grade of the tumour is undefined and the cancer cells have spread to any of the lungs.

Stage IV (B): The tumour cell has progressed to the lymph nodes. The cell has also further spread to other organs other than the lungs. The tumour’s size and grade are unknown at this stage. 

Doctors usually divide bone cancer into two types. One is localized or primary bone cancer

The other one is metastatic or secondary bone cancer. Stage four includes bone metastatic cancer and it can be of any grade. 

5. What Are The Types Of Bone Cancer?

According to the types of cancer cells and the location of the cancer initiation, there are different types of bone cancer. The following are the most common types of bone cancer:

5.1 Osteosarcoma:

It is the most common type of bone cancer. Osteosarcoma bone cancer usually develops in children and young adults and mainly affects the arm and leg bones. 

Osteosarcoma is more common to be found in males than in females. 

In some rare situations, osteosarcoma bone cancer cells develop outside of bones. Bone pain, swelling in the affected area, and soreness in the body are some of the symptoms you might experience as an osteosarcoma bone cancer patient. It’s better to consult a doctor if you are observing any of these symptoms in your body. 

5.2 Chondrosarcoma:

The second most common bone cancer is chondrosarcoma. An individual over 20 years old is at more risk of getting this type of bone cancer. 

Chondrosarcoma can develop anywhere in cartilage. Commonly bones, where this type of bone cancer develops, are the pelvis or hip, arms, and legs bone. Sometimes also develops in the trachea, larynx, chest wall, shoulder blades, ribs, or skull.

The grade of chondrosarcoma usually varies from I to III. The lower the grade the lower the cancer grows and is also less likely to spread. 

Grade I chondrosarcoma grows slowly and is unlikely to spread in the body. It is also known as an atypical cartilaginous tumour.

Grade II chondrosarcoma grows faster in comparison to grade I and also are more likely to spread.

Grade III chondrosarcoma is most likely to spread.

5.3 Ewing Sarcoma:

Ewing sarcoma is the second most common type of bone cancer that grows in children, kids, and young adults. It is also the third most common type of all the types of bone cancer. 

Ewing bone cancer is commonly found in white people and is very rare among American, Asian, and African.

Ewing tumor develops in bone but its initial cancer cells are from other organs or tissues. Such tumours usually develop in hip bones, chest bones, long bones of the legs, and spine bones.

6. What are the Survival Rates of Each Bone Cancer Type?

The survival rates in the case of bone cancer vary from person to person. Including factors like whether cancer has spread, the bone cancer type, and lastly the current health condition of an individual.

But different people have different experiences so it’s better to consult with your doctor after noticing any of the bone cancer symptoms.

The survival rates of each type of bone cancer are divided into three categories:

Localized Bone Cancer: The cancer cells have not spread.

Regional Bone Cancer: The cancer has spread to the nearby organs or parts of the body.

Distant Bone Cancer: The cancer has spread to the entire body. It is also referred to as stage IV of bone cancer.

According to the Cancer Society of America, an individual with any type of bone cancer has about five years of survival rate.

6.1 Osteosarcoma:

  • Localized osteosarcoma cancer has a survival rate of about 77 percent.
  • Regional osteosarcoma Cancer has a survival rate of about 65 percent
  • Distant osteosarcoma Cancer has a survival rate of about 26 percent only.

6.2 Chondrosarcoma:

  • Localized has a survival rate of about 91 percent.
  • Regional has a survival rate of about 75 percent.
  • Distant has a survival rate of about 23 percent.

6.3 Ewing:

  • Localized Ewing has a survival rate of about 82 percent.
  • Regional Ewing has a survival rate of about 70 percent.
  • Distant Ewing has a survival rate of about 39 percent.

6.4 Chordoma: 

  • Localized chordoma has a survival rate of about 86 percent.
  • Regional chordoma has a survival rate of about 85 percent.
  • Distant chordoma has a survival rate of about 61 percent.

6.5 Giant Cell Yumour of Bone:

  • Localized: 87 percent
  • Regional: 74 percent
  • Distant: 42 percent

7. How is Bone Cancer diagnosed?

To diagnose bone cancer the doctor often suggests getting an X-ray image of your bones before giving any treatment. Doctors also use magnetic resonance images (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) images to get a more detailed image of the cancer-affected area around the bones.

Following are some ways to diagnose bone cancer:

7.1 Bone Scan:

A bone scan might help you to detect cancer in the bone. The doctors examine the entire skeleton by putting a radioactive tracer into the blood vessels to locate or detect cancer in the bones. 

7.2 MRI:

The next method of diagnosing bone cancer is MRI. The interior body’s cross-sectioned images are taken through magnetic resonance images (MRI). 

It is very useful to inspect the spine, spinal cord, and joints of the bones.

7.3 CT scan:

Computer tomography generates a detailed image of the entire body along with the bones of an individual. All the generated images from a CT scan are combined to make a precise image to see if cancer has spread to the bones.   

7.4 Biopsy:

In this process, a small tissue is taken from the bone and the doctor examines it with a microscope. 

A biopsy helps the doctor to find the type of cancer and from where it has been initiated. Through this information, your doctor will suggest the most suited treatment and therapy for your cancer type.

7.5 X-rays:

An X-ray image tells the doctors whether the cancer cells have spread to the bone. It also helps to detect the tumours and also the size and shape of the tumours.

How Fast Does Bone Cancer Spread? 6 Important Symptoms
Photo by: MART PRODUCTION / Pexels Copyright 2021

7.6 Lab Tests:

Bone metastasis might result in the release of a lot of substances in the blood circulation. Doing a blood test in a lab will inform you if any substance level has risen from its normal level.

However, the increased level of certain substances in your body might indicate other health issues also. So, before getting any treatment consult with a doctor first about your blood test reports.

7.7 PET scan:

A radioactive sugar is released into the patient’s blood circulation. The cancer cells absorb more sugar in comparison to the normal cells. Your entire body gets scanned as soon as the radioactive sugar is injected into your blood. 

A special camera captures pictures of the radioactive area. However, a PET scan doesn’t help much to detect bone cancer but it might help to observe the abnormality in your body. After all these procedures the doctors will suggest you the right treatment.

Can ultrasound detect the cancer in your body, to know more about it read the article on amazing facts about ultrasound detectors. 

8. What are the Treatment Options for Bone Cancer Patients?

The treatment for a bone cancer patient is determined by the type, whether the cancer cells have spread, and if it has spread then where. A team of healthcare providers that includes the doctor specialized in cancer, and the doctors specialized in bones usually treat bone cancer.

The type and the duration of the bone cancer treatment completely depend on the size of the tumour, the type of cancer, and where it has further spread. 

The most commonly used treatment options for bone cancer are as follows:

8.1 Radiation Therapy:

In radiation therapy, doctors use high-dosage of radiation or beams such as an X-ray to kill the cancer cell or shrunken-up the tumour. 

During this therapy, the patient lies in a bed and a special machine rotates around while beams are released at the part of the body where the tumour is growing.

This therapy is usually conducted before surgery as the radiation helps to shrink the tumour size. Furthermore, radiation therapy also reduces the possibility of an amputation.

Such therapy is often recommended to those patients whose bone cancer can’t be removed with surgery. It can also be used after a tumour is removed through surgery to kill all the remaining cancer cells.

Radiation therapy might also help to remove the signs of cancer.

8.2 Surgery:

In surgery, the doctors remove the entire cancerous tumour from the bone. Usually, doctors remove the tumour in one piece along with some healthy cells from the surrounding. Then to fill the gap, a bone from another part of the body is put in there. In some cases, doctors put a disk, hard plastic, or some materials from a bone bank.

In case the size of the tumour is very large or has developed in a complicated bone then doctors recommend to do amputation meaning removing the entire affected bone. 

However, with modernized medical technologies, amputations are becoming more rare. Still, if you need amputation surgery then you will most likely be equipped with an artificial limb and will undergo certain training on how to do tasks with your new limbs.

8.3 Chemotherapy:

In chemotherapy treatment, the doctors deliver various strong administrative anti-vaccine drugs through veins to kill the cancer cells. 

The drugs’ names are cisplatin, doxorubicin (adriamycin), etoposide, cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and vincristine.

However, this treatment option cannot cure all types of bone cancer. The Chondrosarcoma bone cancer type is one example that can’t be cured through chemotherapy. 

However, chemotherapy is the best treatment option for curing Ewibng and osteosarcoma bone cancer types.

8.4 Bone Cement:

This treatment involves injecting bone cement or glue inside a bone. This helps to strengthen or secure the bone.

The process of injecting the cement into the spinal bones is termed Vertebroplasty or Kyphoplasty. The main purpose of injecting the bone cement into the spinal cord bone is to prevent it from collapsing.

However, when this process is used in other bones, it is known as cementoplasty.

This treatment directly does not cure bone cancer. It is used after other treatments for cancer to protect and strengthen the bone.

8.5 Tumor Ablation:

This method involves directly inserting a prone into the cancerous tumour. A CT scanner is used to direct the inserted prone. 

Then various chemicals, heat, electricity, and cold are passed through the prone to kill the tumour. 

The tumour ablation treatment method can remove about one to two tumours. After tumour removal, the remaining hole in the bone is filled with bone cement.

9. What Is Bone Metastatic?

Bone metastasis occurs when the cancer cells spread to the bones from the initial site. Almost all types of cancers get spread to the bone such as breast and prostate cancer. Bone metastatic is also known as secondary bone cancer or metastatic bone cancer

Metastatic bone cancer can occur in any bone but most commonly it affects the arms, spine, legs, thigh, and pelvis bones. 

This cancer type might be the first sign to indicate that you have cancer. It might occur in your body years after the cancer treatment. It might lead to broken bones or severe pain in the bones.  

Various treatment options are also available to cure and reduce the pain of bone metastases. In some rare cases, the cancer that has spread to the bones can not be cured. 

10. What Is The Difference Between Primary Bone Cancer And Bone Metastatic?

Primary bone cancer means that the cancer has begun in the bone. This type of bone cancer is common among young adults and elderly adults. This tumour most commonly develops in the long bones of arms and legs. 

However, when cancer has started somewhere else and its cells get spread to the bones is known as Bone metastatic. It can happen from any type of cancer including breast cancer or lung cancer. When the cancer cells are taken from the bones and examined on a microscope, the doctors understand from which organ the cancer has spread. 

If a breast cancer cell has spread to the bone and developed into bone metastatic, then the tissues in the bone act like breast cancer cells. The patients need to get the treatments that are used to cure breast cancer. 

11. What Are The Types Of Bone Metastatic?

Under normal circumstances, the bones in our body are continuously changing. New bone tissues develop while the older bone tissues degrade and become minerals that circulate in the blood. 

This entire process of generating new bone tissues and degradation of bone tissues is known as remodelling.

This remodelling process is interrupted by the cancer cells leading to an abnormality in the bones causing the bones to weaken or grow too thick.

The following are the two most common types of bone metastatic:

1. Osteoblastic Bone Metastases:

When the cancer cells attack the bones resulting in the development of too many bone cells, then it is called osteoblastic metastases. This usually happens when the metastasized prostate cancer spreads to the bones.

2. Osteolytic Bone Metastases:

When the cancer cells destroy too much of the bone, making it weak then it is called osteolytic metastases. Osteolytic metastases happen when the breast cancer cells spread to the bones.  

How is Bone Cancer Treated?

12. Bottom Line

Bone cancer is a very serious life-threatening disease. Bone pain, fever, extra tiredness, weakness in the bones, unexplained swelling, difficulty moving around, nausea, lack of appetite, and chills are some of the symptoms of bone cancer. 

Bone cancer has several different types and here few common types are being explained. The survival rate of all types of bone cancer is not that high. So, it is best to consult a doctor right away if you experience any of the symptoms.  

Several treatment and therapy options are available to cure bone cancer including chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, tumour ablation, bone cement, and so on. But before getting any of these therapy your doctors will suggest you do certain tests to diagnose the type of cancer you are having. 

Always take proper care of your body, try to eat healthily, and don’t neglect any signs or symptoms that your body is showing. 

Last Updated on December 23, 2023 by