Get access

Bone cancer pain


Address for correspondence: Patrick W. Mantyh, Ph.D., Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, University of Arizona, 1656 E. Mabel, Rm. #119, PO Box 245215, Tucson, AZ 85724. Voice: 520-626-0742; fax: 520-626-4182.


In the United States, cancer is the second most common cause of death and it is expected that about 562,340 Americans will have died of cancer in 2009. Bone cancer pain is common in patients with advanced breast, prostate, and lung cancer as these tumors have a remarkable affinity to metastasize to bone. Once tumors metastasize to bone, they are a major cause of morbidity and mortality as the tumor induces significant skeletal remodeling, fractures, pain, and anemia. Currently, the factors that drive cancer pain are poorly understood. However, several recently introduced models of bone cancer pain, which closely mirror the human condition, are providing insight into the mechanisms that drive bone cancer pain and guide the development of mechanism-based therapies to treat the cancer pain. Several of these mechanism-based therapies have now entered human clinical trials. If successful, these therapies have the potential to significantly enlarge the repertoire of modalities that can be used to treat bone cancer pain and improve the quality of life, functional status, and survival of patients with bone cancer.