For someone with advanced cancer, bone complications are a serious challenge, yet many people are unaware of this health issue. In fact, 60 to 75 per cent of women with advanced breast cancer will experience bone metastases and 90 per cent of men with advanced prostate cancer will experience cancer spreading to the bone.

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What is Bone Metastasis?

Metastatic cancer is cancer that has spread from the part of the body where it started (called its primary site) to other parts of the body 1. When cancer spreads – or metastasizes – from its original location, one of the most common destinations is the bone. These new cancer locations are called bone metastases, or “bone mets”. Bone metastasis is very common in patients with advanced breast cancer and advanced prostate cancer.2

Know the Signs and Talk to Your Doctor

Signs and symptoms that can indicate cancer has spread to the bone, include: bone pain (most common), broken bones, weakened bones and in some cases, there are no warning signs at all. If you have cancer, it’s important to be proactive about your bone health.

Talk to your doctor if you have persistent, unexplained bone pain, or think you may be at risk of serious bone complications.

When Cancer Spreads to the Bone

Bones are constantly breaking down and being rebuilt. When cancer cells travel from the original tumour to the bone, they disrupt the normal functioning of the bone. This has an impact on normal bone breakdown and bone rebuilding. As a result, space is created for the cancer to grow, and the bone releases proteins which encourages the cancer’s growth. This leads to a cycle of destruction which can lead to pain, loss of mobility, and other serious bone complications. Bone complications can include radiation for bone pain, surgery for fractures and spinal cord compression.

If you have cancer, it’s important to be proactive about your bone health. Speak to your doctor if you have persistent, unexplained bone pain, or think you may be at risk of serious bone complications.

Thank you!

  1. cancer.org/treatment/understandingyourdiagnosis/bonemetastasis/bone-metastasis-what-is-bone-metastisis
  2. Coleman RE. Skeletal complications of malignancy. Cancer. 1997; 80(suppl): 1588-1594.