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Orthopaedic surgery in the palliation of cancer 

Orthopaedic surgery in the palliation of cancer
Orthopaedic surgery in the palliation of cancer

John H. Healey

and David McKeown

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date: 16 May 2022

Metastatic spread of cancer to bone is frequent and causes pain, disability, and functional limitation. New understanding of the homing method of cancer cells to bone and the mechanism of cancer production of pain raise possible new treatment strategies. Non-surgical treatments such as chemotherapy and hormone therapy are effective in early disease. Bisphosphonates and inhibition of osteoprotegerin prevent progression of bone lesions and avoid pain, radiation, and surgery. Radiotherapy arrests disease and relieves pain in many cases. Surgery is needed when the bone is weak or fractured. It effectively relieves pain and preserves function. It usually requires replacing or bypassing the deficient bone with site-specific reconstructive surgery. Surgery should be selected based on projections of patient survival. New tools to make these projections have been validated and are now available. New targeted drug therapies appear to be changing metastatic bone disease into a more chronic condition. This will alter the management of local disease in many histological subtypes of metastatic cancers.

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