bone metastasis?

Could anyone give me a sense of how long one can last after there is bone metastasis to pelvis after lung cancer diagnosis? My father had surgery for Stage IIIa, several tiny spots appeared again on lung but too small to even do a biopsy. Everything supposedly clear and then extreme, extreme pain. Turned out bone erosion from cancer at hip socket. Now replaced, surgery relatively straightforward. Question: what is mobility like that after that? Question: what is life expectancy range after that? My brothers and sisters don't want to find out, but I seem to want to know. But I am scared. My father has a really good attitude, is healthy otherwise. Taking what comes. But how fast does this bone cancer progress? Does it vary from person to person, I assume? What is the longest or the shortest he can be expected to live in this condition? Is the next stop brain, or another bone spot? I just hope he is mobile. He will use a walker first...Just hope for the best and will check in...just am obsessed with knowing, how long, how long. Any of you have had bone mets out there? Or know people that have? What is to be expected next? How can I tell if he will get it in brain next? Love, Laura

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Hi Laura,

My mom has it primarily in her bones. I haven't heard anything about a prognosis at this point. I'm not the primary caregiver - so don't get to hear everything from the doctor. I hear it all through my step dad and they haven't brought up life expectancy and I'm too scared to ask.

My mom was diagnosed with stage IV in Feb. 08 and since then I don't feel like it has gotten any better. She had a small spot on her lung, but the primary tumors were in her spine and on her ribs. The pain has been really bad and she is on so many meds. I can tell you this part is difficult because the medicine just makes her so out of it. She has a hard time staying awake, short term memory isn't very good and mobility is becoming even more challenging.

So far she has had 10 doses of radiation, then 4 rounds of chemo (carboplastin/taxol and one other I can't remember). They did a repeat cat scan and found it had moved into her lower back and caused small fractures. So she just completed 5 more rounds of radiation and starts chemo again on June 10th.

I wish I had answers for you and I will be checking back because I am curious too. I hate seeing her in so much pain, but like your dad she has a great attitude. So am hoping that continues to stay positive.

Good luck with everything and I wish you and your family all the best.


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As a cancer patient, not a care-giver, I would suggest not being so concerned with "how long". The doctors are not God, they can only give statistics. And statistics only cover groups of people, not individuals. If there is a 10% chance something will happen to a person, that doesn't mean that in a group of 10, 1 person will be affected. It may be none or all 10. Statistics are gathered over larger groups of people.

None of us know how long we have. So enjoy each day with your father or mother. And live your own life as if it won't last forever.


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Sue is right about not concerning yourself with "how long". Nobody knows as each person's cancer usually behaves in its own way and there is no real way to predict what will happen. Instead, the more useful and important question is how to deal with bone mets. Is your dad on chemo? With some people, bone mets will clear up or at least improve while on chemo. Is he being given Zometa to help strengthen and protect his bones? When bone mets don't respond to chemo, bone mets are usually treated with radiation, especially if there are just a couple here and there.

The main thing to know about bone mets is that they have to be watched and treated if they are causing too much pain or might lead to a more serious condition such as compression of the spinal cord. If your dad's doctor is monitoring the situation with occasional CT and/or bone scans, he will probably choose when to use radiation to treat anything worrisome. If there are just one or two spots, he may well decide to use radiation to treat them. If there are more, he'll probably try using chemo or a targeted therapy drug like Tarceva.

If your dad has a good attitude and responds well to his treatments (chemo or radiation), no doubt he'll be up and walking around just fine in no time, especially if he has some radiation to treat any of the more painful bone mets. My husband has had radiation to mets a couple of times. The latest treatment was to a met in one hip in mid-April. About 6 weeks later, he's walking quite well and without pain. I've read that it takes about 2 months for the bones to mend after radiation to a bone met and that seems about right. My husband has found that the pain gradually begins to subside about 2 weeks after a course of radiation, and by about 6 to 8 weeks, there is little if any pain remaining.


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Bev, Sue, Amanda,

Thanks so much for your input. I appreciate it and may check in later with other questions as they come up.


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Dear Kelley,

My mom, Donna, had a diagnosis of bone mets in mid-April, we heard anything from a matter of months, 2 -3-4 months and I saw 6 months on line. Here is it 6 weeks later, she's still with us, she's having a huge celebration of her life Saturday, we are expecting 250 people, there will be a barbecue, a bar and a band! My kids ask when Grandma is going to die, I say I don't know but she's alive today and it's a good time to tell her you love her!


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Hi Laura, my father in law is Stage IV with bone mets to the pelvic hip bone right above the hip socket too. The tumor there has eatan away his bone there and he is in alot of pain...the doc gave him a cane and he seems to be getting around okay with that. He just started his radiation - today will be his 3rd. I'm hoping his pain will subside soon and he can start chemo. I would advise that your dad lay easy until they can treat the hip. The real danger is if he breaks his hip b/c they will have to do surgery and that could delay any chemo treatments. So, tell him to be really extra careful - walk softly and gingerly, etc. Best Regards, Pat

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btw, we haven't been given a prognosis either. We're taking it one day at a time...that's all we can do - and the doc has even said the same. we do worry about the stats (to recognize that it's real), but then again we don't worry about the stats...if that makes any sense. Pat

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Hi Pat,
Yeah, my father had hip surgery to remove the joint and now it is cemented with a metal socket. He is already up and around with a walker and getting physical therapy. I don't know what will happen next, just playing it one day at a time. Keep me posted!


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My father is recovering from hip replacement and a pelvic surgery that removed a tumor from his pelvis. He also has hot spots in his ribs. He is beginning his first round of chemo today. Any words of wisdom?

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I have gone through something similar. My mom had her lung cancer metastize in the humerus bone of her right arm. It was extremely painful. She ended up having surgery to remove the mass (which was larger than a grapefruit) from the bone. Thankfully, they were able to save her arm. She has now started chemo to treat the lung cancer. I am one of her primary caregivers (the other being my father) and I have been frustrated because no one seems willing to give us a prognosis. While I know a prognosis is not the "end-all-be-all," I would like to get at least an idea of what's in store. I tend to be a realist...not a pessimist. I enjoy every day she is with us to the fullest. However, I cannot help but remain frustrated by the lack of answers.

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They removed the tumor???? My mom has bone cancer just below her elbow, she originally had lung cancer , that is gone for 2 years now. Now the bone, they diagnosed as tennis elbow back in June 2008. Finally Sept they scanned and she was in unbearable pain since Aug 1. They did radiation in Oct. and she ended up in hospital from the cancer clinic, for the pain. There was no mention of removing the cancer. They did a cat scan last week and an MRI in first week in Dec. no results yet,Jan. 20 they say, so we don't know if it is anywhere else. It was nowhere in the bones except the arm. She is on 120mg. of morphine, lots of tylenol and advil and it barely keeps the pain gone. She hasn't used that arm since Sept. and we were led to believe that the pain would go away with the radiation. Only one treatment she had. Its taking so long for the whole procedure. We just want the pain to go away, so she can have some life. She sleeps a lot and does nothing basically. Did they say your moms is terminal. Moms is treatable but not curable, "terminal". I wonder if removing the arm above the elbow might be an option, but they haven't said anything. Thanks for the ear. Are u in Canada? Gonehiking, are u in canada, I'll check into the zometa and tarceva.

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Hi Laura:
My father was just diagnosed with stage 4 bone cancer! Do you know more about it? Is the pain worse? he is starting treatment tomorrow. He is 75 years old! I would appreciate any information you may have!

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