Bone Cancer

John Han-Chih Chang, MD and Kenneth Blank, MD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

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Question
Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
 
A friend has been diagnosed with bone cancer, but has decided to refuse any treatment. What are his chances?

  1. of recovery?
  2. of survival (and how long if diagnosed early)?
He has taking up alcohol as pain relief. What overall effect will this have? He is obviously experiencing anger and denial but I will address these on separate issue.  
Thanks.
P.H.


Answer
John Han-Chih Chang, MD and Ken Blank, MD, Editorial Assistants for OncoLink, reply:

To P.H.:  
Thank you for your question.

Cancer of the bone is a general term used when cancer cells are seen in the bone. The cancer cells may be of several different types. For example, multiple myeloma and osteogenic sarcoma are both "bone cancers" but carry different prognoses and require different treatments. Also, many people use "cancer of the bone" in situations when cancer from another part of the body has spread to the bone. Breast, prostate and lung cancer are among those malignancies that often spread to the bones. Without knowing the specific diagnosis of your friend's bone cancer, it is difficult to be of more assistance.

In regard to the treatment of your friend's cancer pain, there are excellent medications which, when prescribed under the direction of a physician, allow long lasting relief of pain with few side effects. Also, radiation therapy is an effective and commonly used treatment of bone pain. Please see OncoLink's Pain Management page which includes numerous articles on the management of cancer pain.

John Han-Chih Chang, MD
Ken Blank, MD
Editorial Assistants for OncoLink