Complications of Paget's disease 

Paget's disease can cause several further problems to develop, although these are usually rare.

Hypercalcaemia

The abnormally rapid process of bone regeneration associated with Paget's disease can sometimes lead to a build-up of calcium in the blood. The medical term for this is hypercalcaemia.

Hypercalcaemia only occurs in people with Paget's disease who have been confined to bed after having an operation or a fracture. However, even in these circumstances hypercalcaemia is quite rare.

Symptoms of hypercalcaemia include:

It's also relatively common for people with hypercalcaemia to develop kidney stones.

Hypercalcaemia can be treated using a combination of medications to lower blood calcium levels and slow down bone regeneration.

Heart failure

In severe cases of Paget's disease, the blood vessels inside the bones can become damaged. This means the heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body. 

Sometimes the heart may no longer be able to pump enough blood around the body to meet demand. This is known as heart failure and is a very rare complication of Paget's disease.

Symptoms of heart failure include:

  • breathlessness (dyspnoea) when you are more active than normal, or sometimes when you are resting
  • extreme tiredness and weakness
  • oedema – swelling in the legs, ankles and feet

Heart failure can be treated using a combination of medications designed to reduce strain on the heart while also helping it work more efficiently. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to repair or replace a damaged heart valve.

Bone cancer

Bone cancer can, in very rare cases, occur as a complication of Paget's disease. It's estimated fewer than 1 in 1,000 people with Paget's disease will go on to develop bone cancer later in life, usually many years after Paget's disease was first diagnosed.

Symptoms of bone cancer include:

  • bone pain very similar to the pain associated with Paget's disease itself – a dull ache, usually worse at night
  • swelling around the affected bone
  • a noticeable lump in the affected bone

Sarcoma is usually an aggressive type of cancer, and it's often necessary to remove the affected bone to prevent the cancer spreading to other parts of the body. 

Other complications

The changes to your bones caused by Paget's disease can also cause other problems, depending on which bones are affected.

These problems may include:

For more detail about these, read about the symptoms of Paget's disease.

Page last reviewed: 05/12/2014

Next review due: 05/12/2016