According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that over 140,000 people were diagnosed with colon and rectal cancers in 2010. In many of those cases the colorectal cancer may metastasize, or spread,  to other areas of the body and manifest. If metastasis has already occurred at the time of diagnosis, the chances for a good prognosis become less likely.

There are many places that colorectal cancers typically spread to, such as distant lymph nodes in the abdomen, the liver, the lungs and the brain. Additionally, it is not uncommon for cases of colorectal cancer to metastasize to the bones.

Often, secondary cancers are undetectable by the patient and must be caught by a doctor through various diagnostic tests. Some of the tests doctors often utilize to check for the spread of cancer to the skeletal structure are bone scans, x-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests, positron emission tomography (PET) scans and blood work.

If a secondary cancer is developing in the bones due to a colon or rectal cancer’s metastasis, it must be diagnosed immediately. The sooner it is detected, the better the prognosis will be.   Knowing the common symptoms associated with the spread of colorectal cancers to the bone can lead to a quicker diagnosis. Some of these signs include bone pain, weakness, numbness, difficulty urinating, nausea, thirst, constipation, fatigue, confusion, and general discomfort for extended periods of time.

When cancer begins to develop in the bones, many complications can result. The growth of a tumor within the bones can cause tiny fractures to occur. These breaks typically heal slower than normal fractures would. Another possibility is that the spinal cord can become damaged by a growth in the spinal bones. In extreme cases, pressure applied to the spinal cord by affected vertebrae can eventually lead to paralysis.

Another repercussion of a secondary cancer developing in the bones is the possibility of what’s known as hypercalcemia of malignancy, in which excess amounts of calcium are released into the bloodstream. This is a serious problem that must be treated as soon as possible. Symptoms of hypercalcemia of malignancy include extreme hunger and increased thirst, but loss of appetite can also occur. Rarely, comas can result from this condition if left untreated.