The rise of metastatic bone disease in Ireland

Clin Exp Metastasis. 2020 Dec;37(6):693-702. doi: 10.1007/s10585-020-10059-7. Epub 2020 Oct 24.


To describe the expected rise of metastatic bone disease in Ireland, the relative primary types, and the locations of spread within the skeleton. This was a population-based epidemiological study using cancer registry data. We included patients with known metastatic cancer to bone, within 1 year of the primary diagnosis, during the years 1994 to 2012 inclusive. Our main outcome measures were age-specific, gender-specific and age-standardised incidence rates of bone metastasis, primary types and metastatic location within the skeleton. There were 14,495 recognised cases of bone metastasis in Ireland, 1994-2012 inclusive. Cases consistently rose over the time period, with 108% case increase and 51% age-standardised incidence rise. Annual percentage change increased across both genders and over all age groups. Most of this rise was not due to demographic population change. Breast, prostate and lung accounted for the majority of primary types. GI cancers were the fourth most common primary type. There were proportional increases in breast and lung, with proportional decreases in prostate. The spine was the major metastatic site. Bone metastasis is a significant and rising healthcare concern in Ireland. This rise is disproportionate to demographic changes. Breast, prostate and lung cancers account for the majority. GI cancers are implicated in an unexpectedly high number of cases. Spine is the most common location of bony metastasis, especially at presentation. Prudent healthcare planning is necessitated to prepare for the growing consequences of bone metastasis in cancer patients.

Keywords: Cancer; Epidemiology; Metastatic bone disease; Neoplasm metastasis; Secondary bone cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Bone Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Registries
  • Sex Factors