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Bone mets and radiation


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This seems like a stupid question, so I'll post it here before I waste our "Experts" time in the Ask the Expert forum. I'm just curious about radiation to bone mets; is there a limit to the amount of radiation that can be received? I understand that there is a limit to the lung and brain and probably other organs, but if a person has mets to various bones, is there an "overall" limit to the amount of radiation? Or is the "count" tallied per bone met?

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Hi Beth,

What we have been told is that they can radiate the bones for pain, but I also understand there are some areas that are a little more difficult than others, and it depends on where they are located (near organs). Also, they can only radiate the same area one time.

Now, we asked our radiation onc if my husband's shoulder could be radiated again if he had pain there. He said, "Well, I would never say never, but it's usually not a good idea."

I also know that the spine can only take just so much radiation because they have to be careful about damaging the spinal cord. I also, though, think that means that if there is a met giving trouble at one spot on the spine, it gets fixed, and then there's another place on the spine that causes trouble, as long as they can radiate without hitting the same spot, they can do more than one spot.

One thing I know for sure, and I've seen repeated on this board is that they won't radiate the bones unless the met is causing pretty severe pain. This is also one reason why they don't always do bone or PET scans initially because the treatment (chemo) for the lung, liver or whatever, is the same treatment for the bones, other than radiation for pain.

One thing I don't know is if there is pain say in 4 or 5 places at the same time, if they will radiate all of them at the same time. That would be a lot of radiation going into the body at one time, I would think. I guess that's something I just pray won't happen to Bill or to anybody.

I probably didn't help much, but that's how it has been explained to us.

I hope your question doesn't mean that Bill is having bone pain.



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We were not told there is an overall limit, even though Lucie has had multiple radiations of bone mets. We have assumed that we are nowhere near the limit. However, we do understand that it is generally not a good idea to radiate the same spot -- too much damage to spot and surroundings. Therefore, the bone met is usually not radiated unless it (1) is causing much pain or (2) it is threatening the integrity of the bone. Lucie has had both cases. Don

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