More than half of People with Breast or Prostate Cancer Unaware of Bone Complication Risk

Results released from the national Bone Complications In Cancer Survey

TORONTO, May 12 /CNW/ - A national survey released today by the Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN) and Prostate Cancer Canada (PCC) revealed a significant gap in awareness amongst Canadians with prostate and breast cancer about complications that can occur if cancer has spread to the bone (metastatic cancer).1 The CBCN and PCC Bone Complications In Cancer National Survey showed that only 39 per cent of people with non-metastatic breast or prostate cancer were familiar with the complications of cancer spreading to the bone.

"We believe that bone health is an important area to highlight," says Lorna Marshall, member, CBCN Board of Directors and breast cancer survivor. "A significant number of women with breast cancer are at risk of cancer spreading to the bones."

While five per cent of people with breast or prostate cancer may have the cancer spread to their bones, in advanced breast and prostate cancer up to 65 to 75 per cent of patients may experience bone metastases.2 When this happens, serious complications, collectively known as skeletal-related events (SREs), can occur, including broken bones and spinal cord compression, which may lead to severe pain, disability, hospitalization, and even death.

"Bone health is an issue even at the early stages of prostate cancer," says Steve Jones, President & CEO of Prostate Cancer Canada.  "We always encourage men with prostate cancer to have continuous, open dialogue with their doctors throughout their journey."

According to the survey, people with breast or prostate cancer agree that a conversation with their doctor about their bone health should take place earlier in the cancer journey. Half of people with breast cancer and four-in-ten people with prostate cancer would have liked to have learned more about their bone health earlier.1 In addition, almost three quarters of people who care for those with breast or prostate cancer (72 per cent) believed that bone health should be discussed before cancer treatment begins.1

"The primary goal of treatment for bone metastases is to prevent the occurrence of debilitating and costly bone complications," says Dr. Fred Saad, urologist, Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, Hôpital Notre-Dame. "Complications of metastases include broken bones, spinal cord compression or the need for surgery or radiation. They can disrupt a patient's life and cause disability, pain and hospitalization."

Bone pain is one of the first signs that cancer has spread to the bone.3

Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1995, Derek Lawrence's cancer spread to his spine in 1997. "I found out that the cancer had spread to my bones after having a CT scan," says Derek Lawrence. "The scan revealed that the cancer had spread to my spine. As a result, I've had two vertebrae removed and replaced with donated bone. Two metal plates, held together under compression by titanium nuts and bolts, keep the donated vertebrae in place."

Like Derek, Lorna also experienced the spread of cancer to her bones. She was diagnosed in 2005 with breast cancer and with bone metastases in 2008. "I would encourage others like me with advanced cancer to get a referral from their doctor for a bone scan if they have unexplained pain. The scan will help determine whether the cancer has spread to their bones so that steps can be taken to prevent bone complications."

More from the Survey

People with Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer patients were less likely to be concerned about the complications of bone metastases (SREs), (53 per cent) than they were with cancer spreading to the bone (63 per cent).

When asked at diagnosis what complications of prostate cancer they expected to experience, most men said erectile dysfunction (75 per cent), followed by urinary dysfunction (66 per cent)  and cancer that spreads (52 per cent).

Seven in 10 men with non-metastatic prostate cancer said they are motivated to seek out more information on bone metastases and skeletal-related events. Despite this, most of those (91 per cent) have not sought out any information about bone-related complications due to metastatic cancer or treatment of bone complications.

Many men with prostate cancer turn to internet research for more information on bone health. Other sources of information include patient brochures and medical journals.

People with Breast Cancer
People with breast cancer were equally concerned with bone metastases and its complications (SREs).

When asked at diagnosis what complications of cancer they expected to experience, women with breast cancer said that they expected cancer that metastasizes (67 per cent), followed by fatigue (62 per cent), then absence from work (46 per cent) as complications of their disease.

Nearly eight in 10 people with non-metastatic breast cancer said they are motivated to seek out more information on bone metastases and skeletal-related events. Despite this, most of those (82%) have not sought out any information about bone-related complications due to metastatic cancer or treatment of bone complications.

Only three in 10 people with non-metastatic breast cancer state that they were directed to specific resources on the resulting complication of their cancer. Patient brochures and patient support groups were the most commonly mentioned examples.

Caregivers of People with Prostate or Breast Cancer
Among caregivers, most are concerned about their loved one experiencing bone metastases (73 per cent), yet  only 28 per cent have voiced their concerns to their loved one's doctor.

About Bone Complications
Bone pain dominates the daily lives of people with metastatic disease and can severely affect a patient's quality of life.4 In fact, up to two-thirds of people with bone metastases experience debilitating bone pain.5

Once the cancer has spread, or metastasized, to the bone, complications can occur, such as broken bones, spinal cord compression as well as the need for radiation and/or surgery - collectively known as skeletal-related events (SREs).  In people with advanced cancer, SREs can greatly impair mobility and is associated with increased illness and death.6,7 

About CBCN
The Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN) is a survivor-directed, national network of organizations and individuals. CBCN is a national link between all groups and individuals concerned about breast cancer, and represents the concerns of all Canadians affected by breast cancer and those at risk.

About PCC
Prostate Cancer Canada (PCC) is the only national foundation dedicated to the elimination of this disease through research, education, and awareness. Prostate Cancer Canada raises funds for the development of programs related to awareness, public education, advocacy, support of those affected and research into the prevention, detection, treatment and cure of prostate cancer.

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1  Leger Marketing Survey, February 2011

2  Coleman RE. Skeletal complications of malignancy. Cancer. 1997;80(suppl):1588-1594.

3  Ripamonti C, Fulfaro F. Malignant bone pain: pathophysiology and treatments. Curr Rev Pain. 2000;4:187-196.

4  Ripamonti C, Fulfaro F. Malignant bone pain: pathophysiology and treatments. Curr Rev Pain. 2000;4:187‐196.

5  Gralow J, Tripathy, D. Managing metastatic bone pain: the role of bisphosphonates. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2007;33:462-472.

6  Coleman RE. Skeletal complications of malignancy. Cancer. 1997;80(suppl):1588-1594.

7  Costa L, Badia X, Chow E, Lipton A, Wardley A. Impact of skeletal complications on patients' quality of life, mobility, and functional independence. Support Care Cancer. 2008;16:879-889.



SOURCE Canadian Breast Cancer Network

For further information:

Ashley MacIsaac-Butler             Rebecca von Goetz
Government Relations & Policy Manager           Executive Vice-President
Canadian Breast Cancer Network            Prostate Cancer Canada
Tel: (613) 230-3044 ext 221             Tel: (416) 441 2131 ext 258

Additional information is also available online at: http://www.newscanada.com/social-media-release-more-than-half-of-people-with-breast-or-prostate-cancer-unaware-of-bone-complication-risk

 

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Canadian Breast Cancer Network

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