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Clin Epidemiol. 2012;4:87-93. doi: 10.2147/CLEP.S28339. Epub 2012 Apr 10.

Estimated number of prevalent cases of metastatic bone disease in the US adult population.

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Chronic Disease Research Group, Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation, Minneapolis, MN, USA.



The prevalence of metastatic bone disease in the US population is not well understood. We sought to estimate the current number of US adults with metastatic bone disease using two large administrative data sets.


Prevalence was estimated from a commercially insured cohort (ages 18-64 years, MarketScan database) and from a fee-for-service Medicare cohort (ages ≥65 years, Medicare 5% database) with coverage on December 31, 2008, representing approximately two-thirds of the US population in each age group. We searched for claims-based evidence of metastatic bone disease from January 1, 2004, using a combination of relevant diagnosis and treatment codes. The number of cases in the US adult population was extrapolated from age- and sex-specific prevalence estimated in these cohorts. Results are presented for all cancers combined and separately for primary breast, prostate, and lung cancer.


In the commercially insured cohort (mean age = 42.3 years [SD = 13.1]), we identified 9505 patients (0.052%) with metastatic bone disease. Breast cancer was the most common primary tumor type (n = 4041). In the Medicare cohort (mean age = 75.6 years [SD = 7.8]), we identified 6427 (0.495%) patients with metastatic bone disease. Breast (n = 1798) and prostate (n = 1862) cancers were the most common primary tumor types. We estimate that 279,679 (95% confidence interval: 274,579-284,780) US adults alive on December 31, 2008, had evidence of metastatic bone disease in the previous 5 years. Breast, prostate, and lung cancers accounted for 68% of these cases.


Our findings suggest that approximately 280,000 US adults were living with metastatic bone disease on December 31, 2008. This likely underestimates the true frequency; not all cases of metastatic bone disease are diagnosed, and some diagnosed cases might lack documentation in claims data.


bone neoplasms; epidemiology; metastasis; prevalence

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