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Can tamoxifen treat secondary bone cancer?

I have breast cancer that has spread to the bone and am having tamoxifen treatment at the moment. Will this stop the bone cancer from spreading or are there other treatments I could have?

It is possible for tamoxifen to slow down the growth of breast cancer cells wherever they may be in the body. But other treatments may also help.

Tamoxifen is a hormone treatment. It works very well for breast cancers that depend on hormones to grow. Doctors can use other hormone treatments either instead of tamoxifen, or after tamoxifen. There is information about these hormone treatments in the main breast cancer section.

Radiotherapy can work very well for secondary bone cancer. Often only one treatment session (fraction) is needed to each area. The radiation kills off the cancer cells and then the bone begins to repair the damage the cancer has caused. This treatment can strengthen the bone and reduce pain. There is information about radiotherapy for cancer in the bones in the main radiotherapy section. And there is information about radiotherapy for breast cancer in the main breast cancer section.

Chemotherapy can also help to treat breast cancer that has spread. The chemotherapy travels around the body in the bloodstream and so can attack cancer cells wherever they are. We have a chemotherapy section and there is more about chemotherapy for breast cancer in the breast cancer section.

Drugs called bisphosphonates can help to slow the growth of breast cancer cells in the bone. They can strengthen the bones and reduce pain. You usually have these drugs through a drip. But you can have some of them as tablets. Doctors also use bisphosphonates to help lower high calcium levels in the blood. This can be a complication of secondary bone cancer, causing drowsiness and sickness. If you have secondary bone cancer and start to feel sick more often, or are increasingly sleepy, it is worth talking to your doctor or nurse about it, as this type of treatment will help if bone secondaries are causing your symptoms.

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Updated: 1 November 2012