Dr. Beauchamp describes what a women with breast cancer should do if she incurs a bone fracture.
That’s a very good question. It is common for us to deal with fractures secondary to breast cancer. Our job is to, in the situation where someone has a history of breast cancer, but has never had any problems with disease elsewhere, our job is to investigate that fracture and make sure that we have a clear understanding of what caused it. And that may require a biopsy to be performed to confirm that it’s indeed breast cancer.
If there’s a fracture that’s occurred, typically, that our role in managing that is to fix it to the degree that patients can immediately get back up and use their limb immediately. We have a whole host of reconstructive techniques available to us now that we can pretty much deal with any type of bone destructive process that occurs, or even results in a fracture, that we can repair it to such a degree that patients can be up walking the next day.
The long-term consequences of having bone involved with breast cancer, having it spread from previous known cancer, is extremely variable. Some patients survive many, many years with bone involvement from breast cancer.
Everyone’s different in how it behaves and today we’ve got very good drugs and treatments that can control its spread. We can’t make it go away, but we can control the rapidity of its growth. We can prevent fractures from occurring. We can stabilize bones that are about to fracture. So there are many things that can be done to improve the quality of life of patients even though they have metastatic breast cancer.
About Dr. Beauchamp, M.D.:
Dr. Christopher P. Beauchamp, M.D., is an orthopedic surgery and Associate Professor of Orthopedics at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. He focuses specifically on musculoskeletal oncology, adult reconstructive orthopedics, bone and soft tissue sarcomas, and infected, failed joint arthroplasty.