Fill Out Your Profile to share more about you. Learn more...

Pain in joints—menopause or cancer??

Options
jons_girl
jons_girl Member Posts: 444
edited January 2021 in Pain

Hi Friends: I’m hoping those of you with these symptoms or who have had bone cancer will post:

I’m officially in menopause as of April of this year. I’m in my early almost mid 50s. Very healthy overall. Active and thin with no overlying health issues that I’m aware of other than osteopenia

I have very sore/painful joints. Shoulders, neck, ankles, toes, hands, elbows, hips, pubic bone can be painful at times. This is better during day worse at night. To the point when I walk to bathroom in middle of night or even turn over in bed I have pain. Aches and pains have not been this bad til past few months.

I’ve told this to a breast surgeon who’s following me. She told me to take this issue to my primary dr. I’m in the process of getting a new primary dr.

My old primary dr did yearly bloodwork on me recently and no red flags.

My question...if you were to get bone cancer would yearly blood tests be off? Like a CBC, iron level, lipid panel, complete metabolic panel....or would I need to ask for other bloodwork?

I don’t have a MO because I’m not taking any hormone blocking meds. My MO who had sorta followed me for awhile hassemi retired and I’ve been told my breast surgeon who’s following me is enough onco drs for me.

What would you do??

«134

Comments

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,747
    Options

    I am sorry that you’re in pain. Are you worried about bone cancer or breast cancer that has metastasized to the bone? Those would be two very different things

  • jons_girl
    jons_girl Member Posts: 444
    Options

    Hi exbrnxgrl: well yes concerned anytime I have pain that doesn’t go away completely. can you explain the difference of bone ca vs met breast ca?

    I just had my manual exam and screening ultrasound for both breasts. All was clear. I’m very small breasted. Nothing was felt or seen.

    Thank you for responding. Just thought it would be good to hear from those of you who have bone cancer.

  • beesie.is.out-of-office
    beesie.is.out-of-office Member Posts: 1,435
    Options

    Menopause is known to cause joint point all over the body. So can osteoarthritis (which I have), rheumatoid arthritis and various inflammatory conditions.

    Bone cancer or bone mets - I don't know for sure but I would expect that the pain would be isolated to the area with the cancer, and would not be pervasive throughout the entire body.

    So if I was experiencing the all-over pain that you describe, honestly, bone cancer/bone mets wouldn't even occur to me.

    To my understanding (which admittedly is very limited on this topic), bloodwork is not used to diagnose bone cancer / bone mets. I believe that while there may be small indicators within bloodwork that something is off, these indicators could mean many things. And nothing at all might show up to indicate a problem.

    To your question to exbrnxgrl, bone cancer is cancer that starts in the bones as the primary site. Bone cancers are pretty rare. Bone mets is when breast cancer has spread into the bones. The cancer remains breast cancer and is treated as breast cancer. Usually when bone mets develops it will start in one or two specific locations.

  • threetree
    threetree Member Posts: 1,271
    Options

    You need an expert medical opinion of course, but I would bet on low estrogen. What you are experiencing sounds a lot like what I do with the aromatase inhibitor. You say you are thin and active and my understanding is that those two situations can also promote low estrogen. I would think that the combination of natural menopause, physical activity, and low body weight/BMI could give you very similar symptoms to an aromatase inhibitor.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,747
    Options

    Thanks beesie! Bone cancer, i.e. cancer whose primary disease originated in the bones is not breast cancer metastasis. It is as different from breast cancer as lung cancer is.

    Breast cancer mets means your breast cancer has spread to organs or structures outside the breast but it is still breast cancer and treated as such. Breast cancer mets, regardless of location (bone, lung, liver, brain are the most common sites for mets) are still breast cancer. So mets to the liver is not liver cancer, nor are mets to the lungs lung cancer.

    If you are concerned about bone mets please know that pain could be a symptom but many, like myself, had no symptoms of metastasis at all. Bloodwork is not used to diagnose bone mets. Some doctors do measure tumor markers but those are not reliable for many. Even if tumor markers indicate a rising trend, then imaging would be done, such as a PET scan. If the imaging reveals areas of concern, they may be biopsied if possible, but bloodwork won’t cut it.What I’m trying to say is that the only way to know what is causing your pain is to see your doctor. I know this is not much comfort

  • ctmbsikia
    ctmbsikia Member Posts: 752
    Options

    I would also say it's from recent on set of menopause. I went through a natural menopause but soon needed help. Hips, legs, hands, everything hurt. Left leg especially. I started taking glucosamine. It took awhile to kick in, but I believe it worked for me. Of course I still take it now as I am taking the AI. I do a shuffle sometimes after getting up if I'm sitting too long. Hope you can continue to stay active.

  • jons_girl
    jons_girl Member Posts: 444
    Options

    Beesie: Thank you for all those explanations! I appreciate that. This may just be hormone stuff with menopause. I will talk with my new primary care doctor about this. Thank you for explaining mets and bone cancer and the differences. I should know this as my maternal gma died of breast cancer mets. But I wanted to ask. This is probably just my menopausal state and hormones. Will see what my new doctor says.

    Three Tree: Thank you for posting as well. I think it is possibly hormonal too. I probably should have my hormones checked. One of my doctors said they don't really do that anymore. Hummmm. I don't take tamoxifen or AI's so no blocking of estrogen but I would think my levels are low due to menopause?

    Exbrnxgrl: So if by chance this would be mets......how would my doctor know to send me for a scan? If bloodwork doesn't show anything I am not sure how she would know to send me for a scan? Maybe my primary doctor would check my hormones first not sure. Thank you for commenting too. I appreciate you sharing your experience and knowledge.

    ctmbsikia: Thank you for commenting too. I appreciate you sharing your experience with menopause and the pain you had. Thank you!

    I really appreciate all of your comments. You all sharing your experiences and knowledge I appreciate alot! Thank you!! I am probably going to have a MRI of my breasts due to some pain I have had off and on under my incision for the lumpectomy. So I am sort of wondering if they could just scan the rest of my bones while I am having the MRI? Just to check. I will see what my primary doctor says.

  • peregrinelady
    peregrinelady Member Posts: 416
    Options
    An MRI for the breasts and a bone scan looking for cancer are 2 separate types of tests.
  • jons_girl
    jons_girl Member Posts: 444
    Options

    perigrinelady: Ok. Well I just wondered if they can see Mets like that on a MRI? They can’t see anything like that when scanning my breasts on MRI?

    They would see ribs and possibly shoulder joint bones right? Just not sure what MRI would see. I know all diagnostics are different. So wasn’t sure. But thought if I decide to have MRI for my breasts might as well check joints?

    I was having pain in my inguinal lymph node area by my hip(still having pain in that general area) they did MRI for that. To check that area for potential cancer. It was ok but found one of my ovaries was being wonky. Ended up having to be watched by a gyn oncologist with periodic ultrasounds as I had cysts on one of my ovaries that looked suspicious for cancer. It has rectified tho now which I’m thankful for.


  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,747
    Options

    Jon’s girl,

    Please remember that breast cancer is not detectable via blood work, regardless of where it may have metastasized. Some doctors will do bloodwork and check for tumor markers. The reason that not all doctors do this is because tumor markers are not reliable for many patients. My mo doesn’t do tumor markers but will not hesitate to order scans, a PET scan specifically, if I am having any pain or problems. For instance, I was having chronic pain near my shoulder blade so a PET was ordered (Nothing found). Bloodwork may reveal other things that could indicate progression (calcium levels for instance), but notice my sentence contains words like may and could. So again, bear in mind that blood work itself does not detect breast cancer. Ultimately scans and , if possible, biopsies are what is used to detect and confirm bc mets. Take care

  • jons_girl
    jons_girl Member Posts: 444
    Options

    Xbrnxgrl:

    yeah I understand that about bloodwork. So CTC blood tests don’t catch anything these days then? I know you said May and could. So maybe those tests do catch something but not most probably. It’s interesting that CTC blood tests are talked about as great tests

    Yes scans are better for Mets. I agree with that. I asked above about whether MRI would catch Mets. Is that possible or are pet scans really the only scans that catch Mets well?

    Just curious about this to know this stuff. This forum is very informative and I’m thankful for that! Sorry for all my questions

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,747
    Options

    Hi,

    CTC‘s are simply not reliable for some people and should they indicate “something” a scan is generally the next step. The oncology department at my HMO has chosen not to use CTC testing, at least notfor breast cancer, and just move straight to a scan if a patient becomes symptomatic. My understanding is that although the test is reliable for some, which would still necessitate a scan if CTC’s are rising, that it is not reliable for many others, which is why some doctors use this test and others don’t. In my time on bco, I’ve seen members members whose mo’s do CTC’s and others who don’t. I have yet to see nor has anyone mentioned that this is an advantage or disadvantage so I tend to think that it’s not a hugely important diagnostic tool, especially since my mo doesn’t hesitate to do a PET if I have an complaints. Take care

  • beesie.is.out-of-office
    beesie.is.out-of-office Member Posts: 1,435
    Options

    Jons_girl, the way that you are set up in the MRI machine for breast imaging - lying facing down with your breasts hanging through holes - is not how you would be positioned for imaging of other parts of your body. So the MRI will likely 'see' some other areas that are close to your breasts but that's it.

    A few years back I had a breast MRI that reported an "incidental finding" of a lesion on my spine. Urgent appointment with my MO (who at that point I hadn't seen in years), who said that in all likelihood I would need to have another MRI, specifically of my spine, to see what was going on. However first he called on one of their spinal imaging experts, who closely evaluated the imaging and determined that the lesion was benign and nothing of concern. So I got lucky - I got the 'all clear' and was able to avoid having the second MRI where I would have been positioned differently so that my spine could be more clearly seen. That was a pretty tense couple of weeks.

    And that's the thing with MRIs. They are very sensitive, which means that they pick up stuff that is of no concern or not serious. As we get older, we all develop all sorts of these things that show up on imaging. This is the reason why scans are usually not recommended unless there is something specific that they are looking for, such as in exbrnxgrl's example, chronic pain in one area (her shoulder blade).

  • jons_girl
    jons_girl Member Posts: 444
    Options

    Hi exbrnxgrl: Thank you for that info on CTC blood tests. My MO did test me at least once. He has semi retired tho and my breast surgeons associate is following me now. She doesn't apparently do the CTC tests. So I just get ultrasound every 6 mo as screening tool. I am probably going to have a MRI too tho. I have had some pain when I sneeze and I have noticed it when I exercise breathing in causes the pain too under the lumpectomy. She thought we should get that checked out. So I may have a MRI as she is wanting me to do that.

    Hi Beesie: Thank you for sharing your experience with the MRI scan you had. I did see someone else had posted they apparently saw a lesion on this persons liver while they were taking the MRI scan of her breasts. I thought that was interesting so the scan for breasts must go more than just high up on the chest? The liver I guess is higher up on the back but not behind the breasts right? =) So found that interesting.

    I am looking forward to my appt with the new primary doctor so I can get this joint pain figured out. Hope you guys have a wonderful day!

  • jcp
    jcp Member Posts: 42
    Options

    Hi Jons_girl. I didn't realize you have been in pain. Basically, sounds like it's in different places. Omg do they see your liver on CT scans of chest thoracic cavity,? I'm scared enough they'll see my stomach too and could find something there besides looking at lungs. Oh well. What are CTCs? JCP

  • jons_girl
    jons_girl Member Posts: 444
    Options

    Hi Jcp: I’m not sure if they can see that on CT. I saw a post regarding that on a MRI scan. I know both those scans are different. See different things I think. But not sure??

    CTC is circulating tumor cells I believe.

  • jons_girl
    jons_girl Member Posts: 444
    Options

    well a update. My primary referred me to a rheumatologist for my joint pain. I go see the person this wk. so hoping to understand better why I'm having pain

  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,939
    Options

    I get regular CTs at least twice a year, chest, abdomen, and pelvis. It seems like they see everything, although the breast area is a bit fuzzy and bones give an impression more than a sharp picture. But all the other organs are seen in detail. I was actually embarrassed after the fact, reading about stool moving through my intestines. TMI on a CT!

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,078
    Options

    Jon's girl - My PCP not writes the orders for my blood tests every 6 months since my MO is much less accessible (even before Covid19) She's happy to order cancer antigen tests as part of the testing. She just has to add the correct code so the insurance will pay.

  • jons_girl
    jons_girl Member Posts: 444
    Options

    Alice: wow yes I'd be thinking the same thing about the bowels. Lol. That is good you get lots of diagnostics. Good doctor to keep following you with all you've been through!


    I go see the rheumatologist tomorrow. Will see what he says.


    Minus two: Wow that's a wonderful PCP to check your blood tests (cancer testing) every 6 months! That's a blessing to have a great PCP

  • jons_girl
    jons_girl Member Posts: 444
    Options

    So I went to my dr appt today and had a LOT of blood tests ordered. My results came back today on most of the bloodwork. Do any of you know if AST/ALT are associated with cancer? Mine were beyond the normal limits and saw on another thread someone who was concerned about the ALT and AST levels in her blood and cancer. Anyone know about this?? My white count was low too just below normal at like 3.something. Not sure if that is important or if that is normal even though it is below normal. I go back to see this doctor in 2 wks. But thought I would ask any of you if you'd be concerned about these levels being off? He did say it isn't normal for someone my age to be having the pain I am having. He ruled out fibromyalgia. Didn't think it was Rhumatoid Arth. I am still waiting on a couple more test results.

  • beesie.is.out-of-office
    beesie.is.out-of-office Member Posts: 1,435
    Options

    AST/ALT are liver enzymes, and measure liver function. Liver cancer and are liver mets are possibilities when these counts are high, but I had to dig around to find that - there are many more likely causes of high AST/ALT that are more directly related to liver function.

    Elevated liver enzymes: Everything you need to know

    .

    Liver Blood Tests (Normal, Low, and High Ranges & Results)

  • jons_girl
    jons_girl Member Posts: 444
    Options

    Thank you Beesie for these links! I am not worried....I have decided to get a appt with a new MO. My old one semi retired and isn't seeing pts anymore. So I had been on the fence thinking my breast dr could follow my bloodwork. My white count is down too. So just for peace of mind I think I will go see a MO once a year so she can make sure all of my bloodwork is ok. My breast dr said I should follow with someone else for my bloodwork. I had sorta been on the fence about being followed by a MO since I am not taking any AI's and never had radiation. But I am somewhat at risk for recurrence although it is a low risk so I do think I should be followed. So I just made a appt with a dr who I think probably will be a great dr for me to follow with. Thank you for this info you sent too though! I appreciate that!

  • macb04
    macb04 Member Posts: 756
    Options

    I had bad pain like that occur to me as well. Like I became really decrepit and old overnight following being thrown into menopause abruptly at age 46.

    I was seeing a Naturopath who pointed out my inflammation markers ( called hsCRP, highly sensitive C Reactive Protein) were fairly high. Recommended dietary modifications like cutting out junk/sugar, increasing fruits and vegetables AS WELL AS MERIVA CURCUMIN.

    OMG! Natural and safe anti-inflammatory. I ran out after being on it for a few months. Actually didn’t remember I hadn’t taken in a couple of weeks. Was at my Counselor, freaking out I had bc coming back.

    Then I had an epiphany. I had stopped the Curcumin. ( My brain wasn’t really sharp at the time following chemo, if you know what I mean)

    Ran right out to my local Natural Supplement store that afternoon. I Never miss a dose, not since then. Not in 7 years.

    Curcumin has also got anti cancer benefits, anti dementia and anti diabetes. A win/win for me.

  • jons_girl
    jons_girl Member Posts: 444
    Options

    Interesting! Well that is good to know! I did not have chemo or radiation....so this is purely hormone stuff going on I think? I have tried Curcumin before.....and it hasn't worked. I wonder if I could have my regular doctor test the hsCRP test? Is that something they can do?

    Thank you for sharing this info.

  • macb04
    macb04 Member Posts: 756
    Options

    A hsCRP is a fairly standard test for inflammation. High inflammation levels can often correlate with worse levels of pain.

    The way I have had inflammation explained to me is that “ Heat can be useful, like fire to cook your dinner, but too much can burn your house down”

    There are quite a few different manufacturers of Curcumin on the market. Not all forms of Curcumin are created equal in terms of absorption and bioavailability. Curcumin is actually a hard molecule to get into your body, unless tricky chemical processes are used such as the “ Meriva” process, whereby Curcumin molecules are bonded to a Fat molecule such as Sunflower oil, to increase uptake at the level of the intestines.

    I personally take Thorne Research Meriva Curcumin. Jarrow makes Meriva Curcumin, and a few other companies as well that I can’t recall at the moment. I take 2 caps of Thorne Curcumin twice per day. Has lowered my hsCRP, AND my pain, so I know it is helping.

    Boswellia is also a safe, helpful, natural antinflammatory. Another name for Boswellia is Frankincense, of Biblical Fame, for good reason. Also look into Wobenzym. It is a mixture of Enzymes with a long history of use for pain and inflammation ( research backs this up) that has been approved for those concerns by the German Commission E ( a regulatory body for natural substances/supplements in Germany)


  • jons_girl
    jons_girl Member Posts: 444
    Options

    macb04:

    Thank you for this information! I appreciate you sharing this info!

  • edj3
    edj3 Member Posts: 1,579
    Options

    I'm also taking the Thorne Research curcumin--you can get it through Amazon if you shop there.

  • jons_girl
    jons_girl Member Posts: 444
    Options

    macb04 and edj3:

    THANK YOU!!! So good to know meriva curcumin works for your joints. My mom has bad arthritis she’s had to put up with for years as well. And I’m going to try this meriva curcumin. I thought I’d also try the Wobenzym. I’ve never heard of this!! It’s pretty expensive but I don’t care about that if it works! I wonder if the Wobenzym alone would work instead of taking Meriva curcumin?

    The Wobenzym sounds amazing from reviews I read!!

    Can you share how much of that product you take and what brand is good but least expensive?

    Also edj3, which of the meriva brands do you use and how much do you take each day?

    I must have inflammation issues. I don’t think I’ve had the hsCRP test? Does a MO do that test? I could ask for that test to be added to my bloodwork maybe?

    Thank you ladies for responding to my post! Any relief from my joint stuff would be helpful!

    I started eating more soy products again. I had sorta cut it out of my diet. But that too seems to help my joints. I think dietary soy is ok regarding estrogen. I don’t know.

    I’m having other menopausal symptoms that I’m dealing with. But can’t take hormones cause of my past ca. So it is what it is.

    Thanks again my friends for sharing your experiences with pain or what supplements you take to help with joint issues.

    Have a great day!

  • edj3
    edj3 Member Posts: 1,579
    Options

    I take Thorne Meriva 500-SF, a capsule in the morning and one at night. I also take glucosamine sulfate (Doctor's Best, 750 mg capsule, one in the AM and one in the PM), which I believe is also helpful for arthritis. I don't have much arthritis but my fingers have gotten a bit twingy and my mother has bad arthritis in her fingers. So I'm hoping to ward off any like mother/like daughter situation :)