Friday, March 13, 2009

Understanding Bone Mets: Layman's Guide

Your bones. They keep you standing, store vitamins and minerals and help your blood do what it is supposed to do. Breast cancer treatments can weaken them. Breast cancer can also spread to them. In fact, they are the number one place for breast cancer mets to spread to. But if this happens to you, this does not mean your fight is over. In fact, bone mets are the most treatable of mets. They are highly responsive to therapy. And women can become stable then NED.

The worst part of bone mets is the pain they can cause. Thankfully, there are wonderful treatments to help with the pain while the mets are eliminated.

Chemotherapy, hormone therapy and anti- Her2 therapy all work on bone mets.
Bisphosphonates, like Zometa, are direct, targeted therapy that works wonders.
ASCO has announced in May of 2008 that COX-2 inhibitors, Celebrex, “can reduce the risk of bone metastases in patients with stage II and III breast cancer.” Further studies have shown that Celebrex helps treat existing mets as well.

What happens to the bone?
When mets attack your bone, they eat away layers of the bone and cause holes. These holes are called osteolytic lesions. Your bone’s repair system can’t repair these holes with normal bone and as it progresses osteoblastic bone lesions take their place. This is what makes bones weak and prone to breaking and painful. Bone mets can over produce calcium too, releasing too much calcium into your system, called the hypercalcemia of malignancy.

Treatment advantages
This is an area where the research has paid off.
Bisphoshonates can fill those “holes” and rebuild bones and help seal off any calcium leakages into the body.

Cox-2 inhibitors can help with pain and also help fight the spread of bone mets.

Since bones are so vital to the blood, chemo that targets new blood supply, like Avastin, go to the source to reverse bone mets.

New drugs, such as Sprycel, are showing great promise in the fight against bone metastasis.

Targeted radiation can help bone mets immensely, and when used in combo with chemotherapy it provides a powerful one-two punch.

If you are diagnosed with metastasis to the bone, you have an entire arsenal to use in your fight. Bone mets can be eliminated and you can become stable and even NED.

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