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Patient Guide on Bone Health in Cancer


Cancer can affect bone health in several ways such as by spreading to the bones (bone metastases) or cancer treatment causing bone loss, which makes the bones more fragile and likely to fracture.


Bone metastases can cause pain in the affected bones, as well as serious complications such as fractures or spinal cord compression. Treatments for bone metastases vary depending on the underlying type of cancer as well as the size and location of the metastases. Radiotherapy, surgery and bone-targeted agents are commonly used in the treatment of bone metastases.

Patients at risk of cancer treatment-induced bone loss may be advised to make lifestyle modifications to reduce the risk of fracture. Some patients receiving certain treatments for cancer may be treated with a bone-targeted agent to reduce cancer treatment-related bone loss.

Patients should be fully informed and involved in decisions about treatment options.

Download the guide

In this guide, you can find information about:

  • What bone health problems can occur in cancer?
  • How are bone metastases diagnosed?
  • How treatment for bone metastases be decided?
  • What therapies are available to treat bone metastases?
  • What treatments are available to prevent bone metastases?
  • What is cancer treatment-related bone loss?
  • How is the risk of cancer treatment-related bone loss assessed?
  • What therapies are available to prevent cancer treatment-related bone loss?
  • What are possible side effects of treatment?
  • What can be done to improve well-being?
  • Support groups 

This guide has been prepared to help you, your family and friends better understand how cancer and its treatment can affect bone health. The medical information described in this document is based on the ESMO Clinical Practice Guideline for bone health in cancer.

The Patient Guide on Bone Health in Cancer is published in 2022.

To enquire about permission to translate or support the distribution (in English or in a translated version) of the Patient Guides series, please send an e-mail to patient_guides@esmo.org

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