- Secondary bone cancer started in another part of the body and has spread to the bones through the blood or the lymphatic system. The original cancer is called the primary cancer.
- Patients with secondary (or metastatic) bone cancers are treated by various BC Cancer Agency Tumour Groups.
- For healthcare professional information on treating cancer, please see our
Cancer Management Guidelines.
- Secondary bone cancer is also referred to as metastatic bone cancer or bone mets or bone metastases.
- For primary cancers that begin in the bone, please refer to the separate information page about Bone cancer.
What causes it and who gets it?
Listed below are some of the known risk factors for this cancer. Not all of the risk factors below may cause this cancer, but they may be contributing factors.
- Secondary bone cancer is caused by the spread of the primary cancer.
- The cancer cells that have spread to the bone look the same and behave the same as cells from where the cancer started.
- Primary cancers that are most likely to spread to bone if not stopped in the earlier stages:
- What bones are most likely to get bone mets? The most common places for secondary bone cancer:
- upper arm
- upper leg bones
Can I help to prevent it?
There is no known method of preventing secondary bone cancer.
The best way to avoid bone metastases is to catch the primary cancer in its early stages and treat it successfully.
Screening for this cancer
If a cancer patient experiences unexplained pain, especially in the back, legs, and arms, they should notify their doctor.
Signs and Symptoms
- Bone pain is the most common symptom
- Broken bones
Spinal Cord Compression may cause numbness or tingling sensations in the arms or legs, difficulty with urination, problems with walking. Spinal cord compression should be treated as soon as possible.
- Hypercalcemia (high levels of calcium in the blood), which may cause symptoms such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Extreme thirst
- Frequent urination