Safeguard Your Bones During Metastatic Cancer

Managing bone metastasis means keeping your bones strong and healthy. Get started with these five simple steps.

Kathleen Engel
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Bone metastases increase your risk for a life-altering fracture, or bone break, so it pays to pull out all the stops to avoid fractures. Here's how:

  1. Double-check your supplement needs 
    Naturally, your doctor should be aware of all the supplements you’re taking—and maybe you’ve had this talk already, perhaps during treatment for early-stage cancer. But it’s essential to double-check your body’s requirements for calcium and vitamin D at this point, since they can differ now that you have bone metastases. This is especially important if you are taking medications to help prevent fractures.
  2. Exercise appropriately 
    Get your doctor’s guidance on what kind of exercise, and how much, your bones can handle. Walking, swimming and light resistance training—such as holding on to the back of a sturdy chair while slowly lowering your body to a squat position—build strength and promote coordination to prevent falls. Use caution: High-intensity, high-impact activities like running and jumping, heavy weight training, and certain stretching movements and yoga postures may increase your fracture risk.
  3. Take medication that can help prevent fractures 
    A bone drug can help strengthen your bones so they’re less likely to fracture. Studies show bone medications can decrease your fracture risk or delay the onset of fractures when you have bone metastases. They may also relieve pain due to bone mets.     
  4. Take precautions to prevent falls
    Both your cancer and the medications used to treat it can make you weak or dizzy, predisposing you to falling and breaking a bone—which happens more easily when you have bone mets. Ask your healthcare team how you can fracture-proof your home and work environment. Some simple ideas: Secure loose rugs. Light hallways so you don’t stumble in the dark. Wear sturdy shoes that provide solid footing. Hold on to handrails and banisters when using stairs. Find out about shower chairs and walkers.
  5. Report symptoms promptly
    Don’t wait until your next doctor’s appointment. Call today if you’re experiencing any unusual new symptoms, such as pain, numbness or weakness. What’s more, bone mets can cause hypercalcemia, or excess calcium in the blood. Signs include constipation, increased need to urinate, extreme thirst and sleepiness. The sooner you seek treatment, the more effective it can be.
October 2012