Bone Metastasis

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What are the risk factors for bone metastases?

A risk factor is anything that affects your chance of getting a disease. Simply having cancer is a risk factor for bone metastases. Still, some people with cancer develop bone metastases and others do not. Doctors can’t predict for certain who will develop bone metastases. But they do know that certain kinds of cancer (breast, prostate, lung, thyroid, and kidney cancers) are more likely to spread to bones than others.

Among people with the same kind of cancer, tumors that are larger and have already spread to lymph nodes are generally more likely to spread to bone. For some kinds of cancer, a high grade (where the cancer cells look very abnormal under a microscope) and certain genetic changes make the cancer more likely to spread to bones.

Having a cancer that’s found after it has spread to other organs raises your risk of bone metastases. Finding cancer early (when it’s small) often means it has not yet had a chance to spread. This can give a person a better chance of successful treatment and a lower risk of future metastases.

Last Medical Review: 02/07/2014
Last Revised: 02/17/2014