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Relieve Bone Pain With Radiotherapy

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Why does breast cancer cause bone pain?

Aggressive cancers can spread throughout the body causing secondary cancer in different areas. In some cases of breast cancer, the cancer can spread into the bone cells causing bone metastasis. This secondary cancer weakens the bone structure and can cause intense pain.

How does radiation treatment help my breast cancer treatment?

The radiotherapy discussed here is used to treat the secondary cancer that has spread from the breast tissue into the bones. The patient’s bone structure is weakened as the cancer attacks healthy bone cells. Radiotheraputic treatment kills some of the cancer cells. This stimulates the body to replace lost bone tissue, strengthening bone structure and reducing the pain felt by the patient.

Does radiation treatment only help breast cancer patients?

Radiation is used as a treatment for pain caused by secondary cancer that has spread to the bone. These bone secondaries can come from prostate cancer, breast cancer, bowel cancer and lung cancer. Radiation treatment may be combined with other treatments depending on the type of cancer you have.

Does radiation treatment strengthen my bones as well as relieve pain?

Radiation therapy can also help to improve bone strength and make bones less likely to fracture. Secondary bone cancer weakens bone structure by damaging healthy bone cells. Radiation therapy can be used to strengthen the bone and can also treat bones that have been fractured. After radiotherapy, some of the cancer cells die. Your body heals, and the bone begins to replace the lost tissue and becomes stronger, less painful, and less likely to break.

What types of radiation treatment are there?

Bone pain is usually treated using one of two methods - External beam therapy or internal radiotherapy with radioactive isotopes.

External beam radiation treatment

If you only have one or two areas of secondary bone cancer, external radiation therapy is the most common type of treatment. The radiation beam is aimed at the affected bone area from outside of your body. The experience is like having an X-ray. Depending on the cancer you might have a single treatment or a series of treatments over a short period of weeks.

Internal radiation treatment with radioisotopes

In cases with multiple areas of secondary bone cancer in different parts of your body, you may receive internal radiation therapy with radioisotopes. You receive an injection of a small amount of a radioactive isotope called strontium 89. The strontium makes its way into the affected areas of bone thereby targeting the treatment to where you need it most. The radiation only remains in your body for a few days but can be very effective for controlling bone pain.

10076 Published April 2012

Review Scheduled April 2013



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