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How to treat bone cancer?

Q: My mother is 67 years old and a type 1 diabetic since the last 7 years. She is diagnosed as having bone cancer. She is being treated at Chennai. The hospital does not reveal the results of the tests undertaken. Also they will not detail the condition of the patient even to the close relatives. However we are having confidence in the institute. She had a previous incidence of breast cancer 10 years back. Mastectomy was done for the right breast and after which she underwent chemotherapy for 15 sittings. The hospital has not conveyed anything regarding the dosage of the drug. She underwent all quarterly check ups till 6 years ago, half yearly check ups till 4 years ago and annual checkups since then, exactly as prescribed by the institute. She was asked to come for the next checkup next month. In the mean time she had severe back pain 2 months ago. We consulted an orthopaedic doctor who asked us to take an x-ray. On seeing the results he immediately prescribed a CT scan. The results were taken to the institute based on which they preferred bone scan and other blood tests. They only said that there is defect in the bone and that chemotherapy and radiations cannot be given. They also started some injection called ARIEDA which they told is to be taken every month. When pestered by us about the condition of the patient they only conveyed that they can only give steroid treatment to suppress the pain and keep up the quality of the life. Now we are not aware of the condition of the patient. Please let us know what is this injection and what for it is given? Is there any other treatment available for such a condition in USA?

A:It appears that your mother has developed bone metastasis from breast cancer. However, a bone scan, Chest Xray, ultrasound abdomen, serum cancer markers need to be seen before a final diagnosis is made. In cancer of the bone, there is increased incidence of fractures. In order to reduce the bone related symptoms such as pain or fractures, aredia is given. It has no side effects. There is another drug called ZOMETA that is given for the same purpose with similar results. However, in order to control the cancer, either or a combination of the three modalities need to be done: change of hormone therapy / chemotherapy / radiotherapy.

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