Bone metastasis, sometimes referred to as “bone mets," can weaken your bones and make everyday activities challenging and painful, but treatments can ease pain and improve your quality of life. Duke orthopaedic and cancer specialists work closely with you to determine the severity of your bone metastasis and recommend the most effective treatment. Our goals are to slow the spread of cancer in your bones, relieve your symptoms, and maximize mobility to help you live more comfortably.
Committed to Your Quality of Life
Common Cancers That Spread to Bone
Bone metastasis is a secondary form of cancer that occurs when it spreads to your bones from a primary tumor. It is most commonly associated with breast, kidney, lung, prostate, and thyroid cancers, and certain forms of melanoma. Cancer can spread during your treatment for your primary cancer or years after you’ve completed treatment. If you are currently undergoing cancer therapy, we’ll integrate bone metastasis treatments into your current plan of care.
With You from the Start
From the moment your bone metastasis is diagnosed, our patient coordinator will guide you through what to expect. Their job is to make your visits as easy as possible. They’ll share your medical information with your doctors before your first appointment so you can have a productive first discussion and create the best care plan for you.
A Team Approach to Your Care
You’ll work with a team of experts who provide the full range of care. Doctors from our team, which include interventional radiologists, radiologists, radiation oncologists, and surgical oncologists, meet regularly to review the case of each patient being treated for bone metastasis.
Your bone metastasis may already affect your ability to move and maintain normal levels of activity. We’ll work with you to match treatment options to your goals, whether it's to walk unassisted, play golf, or live independently for as long as possible.
Duke Health providers treat your bone metastasis at the Duke Cancer Center in Durham.
What to Expect at Your First Appointment
During your first visit, you’ll have a physical exam to identify the greatest source of pain and help your doctor understand how your cancer impacts your daily life. You may also speak with specialists on our team who will review options for treatment. Additional imaging and tests may be ordered to get the most up-to-date information on how your cancer is spreading.
After your initial appointment, we’ll work with your referring oncologist to coordinate your treatment plan.
Tests for Bone Metastasis
You doctor will perform a comprehensive exam to evaluate your pain and the cancer’s effect on your bones. Previous X-rays will be reviewed, and additional imaging may be ordered to confirm the severity and extent of your bone metastasis. Our main goals are to assess your bone are functioning, help with pain management, and slow or stop the cancer’s growth in your bones.
Your doctor may recommend imaging tests for specific areas of your body, including additional X-rays and MRI, CT, and PET scans. These tests help determine the extent of the cancer in your bone and to look for any fractures. Another option is a whole-body bone scan, which is more powerful than a regular X-ray. It allows your doctor to see your entire skeleton at once to identify areas where cancer has spread to your bones.
A biopsy removes a small amount of tissue that is tested for the presence of cancer. In some cases, this test is not necessary. Your medical history and imaging test results may be all your doctor needs to confirm your diagnosis.
Why Choose Duke
Experts in Bone Metastasis
Our doctors are focused on your needs. The number of experts on our team ensures you receive thorough, comprehensive care. Through in-person and telehealth appointments, inpatient consultations, and treatments, we make every effort to work with our patients and keep treatment on track.
Where you receive your cancer care is important. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our cancer program is nationally ranked, and the highest ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2021–2022.