What Happens When Bone Marrow Cancer Spreads?

Bone Marrow Cancer

Bone marrow cancer develops in the stem cells of the bone marrow, a sponge-like material inside your bones. These stem cells mature into different blood cells, such as red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs), or platelets. 

Usually, when these cells grow old or get damaged, new cells take their place. However, sometimes this process goes wrong when cells in the marrow begin to increase abnormally. It is what is known as bone marrow cancer.   

What are the Symptoms of Bone Marrow Cancer?

Symptoms of bone marrow cancer depend on the type of cancer you are diagnosed with. For instance, in the case of multiple myeloma, one of the most common types of bone marrow cancer which starts in the plasma cells, the sign and symptoms may include: anemia, leukopenia, dehydration, abdominal pain, frequent urination, bone pain or weakened bones, kidney damage or kidney failure, etc. In the case of Leukemia which usually involves WBCs, the symptoms may include fever and chills, weakness and fatigue, unexplained weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, bone pain, enlarged liver or spleen, etc. 

The symptoms of Lymphoma may include swelling in the neck, underarm, arm, leg, or groin, night sweats, nerve pain, numbness, tingling, rash or itching, etc. 

What Causes Bone Marrow Cancer? 

Though it is not known, multiple factors can cause bone marrow cancer. Below mentioned are factors that may contribute to this deadly affliction:

  • a weak immune system or plasma disorder
  • genetic conditions 
  • history of bone marrow cancer in the family
  • previous chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • exposure to toxic chemicals 
  • certain viruses, including HIV, hepatitis, and some herpes viruses
  • smoking
  • obesity

Diagnosis of Bone Marrow Cancer

One of the most effective ways to diagnose bone marrow cancer is to undergo a bone marrow test. There are two types of tests: aspiration and biopsy. Both tests are simple and safe for most patients. 

In aspiration, the doctor takes a small amount of your bone marrow fluid, which will usually give the idea of what the problem is; if not, they will conduct a bone marrow biopsy. 

It is most likely that the biopsy report will confirm a bone marrow cancer diagnosis and provide information about cancer, its type, and its severity. In addition, a doctor can also go for imaging testing, which can help determine how far the cancer has spread and which organs are affected. 

Treatment for Bone Marrow Cancer

Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for bone marrow cancer. If the cancer is not treated on time, it can be fatal due to factors like reduced immunity, increased susceptibility to chronic infections, and bleeding. 

Treatment for bone marrow cancer varies from individual to individual and is usually based on the specific type and stage of cancer, including other health conditions. 

Here are some of the well-known methods used to treat bone marrow cancer: 

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is one of the most effective treatment methods designed to find and destroy cancer cells in the body. The doctor will prescribe a drug or combination of drugs depending on your specific type of cancer.  

Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy targets a specific area, kills cancer cells, reduces tumor size, and eases pain.  

Biological Therapy: This method uses your immune system to kill cancer cells. 

Targeted Therapy Drugs: Under this treatment method, drugs attack specific types of cancer cells precisely. Besides, unlike chemotherapy, targeted therapy drugs do not damage the surrounding cells.

Transplant: Under this treatment, damaged bone marrow is replaced with healthy marrow from a donor. A transplant may involve high-dose chemotherapy, as well as radiation therapy.  

Clinical Trial: Participating in a clinical trial process approved by the regulatory authority is another treatment option. But remember, clinical trials are research programs that focus on testing new treatments which have not yet been approved for general use. It is done under expert supervision and generally has strict eligibility guidelines. Consult doctors and find out all the information related to the trial and, most importantly, the risk attached to it. 

The Outlook 

Though it has been seen that some types of bone marrow cancer are more aggressive than the rest, over time, owing to the rapid developments in the treatment methods, survival rates have gone up. However, early diagnosis remains pivotal and increases the chances of survival. Besides, recovery from bone marrow cancer also depends on how well your body responds to treatments, comorbidities, and overall health status. 


Before you opt for a bone marrow cancer diagnosis, you must understand your diagnosis and treatment methods. Communicate with your doctors without hesitation and actively participate in the decision-making. It will make you take the best decision for yourself.  Max Healthcare provides world-class facilities for a comprehensive bone marrow cancer diagnosis under the supervision of some of the most experienced and skilled oncologists. Get in touch with the team for more information.

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What Happens If Cancer Spreads to Bones?

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