Did you know that bone sarcomas account for 0.2% of all the cancers and malignancies diagnosed in the United States? The death toll due to bone cancer is on the rise and here’s why you should know about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of bone cancers.
Bone Cancer or Bone Sarcoma: I knew a friend of mine, who was a bone cancer survivor. She shared that getting diagnosed with bone cancer and fighting it was the most difficult yet proudest thing she’d ever done. In those 18 months, she coped up with the painful symptoms, underwent surgery, almost lost her arm, but fortunately, she didn’t and ever since she’s living her life to the fullest. This made me a bit curious about this malignancy and made me wonder how in the earth does it occur, what are it’s causes, types and treatment options.
In this article from sound health solution, I’m going explain everything that you need to know about bone malignancies/bone sarcoma.
What is Bone Cancer?
Like any cancer, bone cancer or bone sarcoma or commonly called osteosarcoma is the abnormal growth of bone cells. These abnormal growth or malignancies develop most often in the bones of arms, legs, and pelvis. Primary bone cancers that arise from the bone cells, can either be benign or malignant. When cancer detected in bones, it either originated in the bones (as in primary bone sarcoma) or has spread to the bone after originating elsewhere. In fact, when cancer detected in bone, it most often is a metastasis that has started in another organ or part of the body and then spread to the bones
Symptoms of Bone Cancer
Some of the peculiar signs and symptoms of bone cancer include:
- Swelling and tenderness of the muscles in the affected area
- Brittle bone that can lead to fracture
- Fatigue and weakness
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bone aches
Causes of Bone Cancer
Despite extensive research and studies, it’s still not clear what causes bone cancer. All cancers form due to abnormal growth of the cells and in case of bone sarcoma, Some cases of bone sarcoma have linked to the mutation or genetic conditions; some also related to long-term radiation exposure. However, certain factors have pointed out that could possibly increase the risk of bone cancer.
Risk Factors for Bone Cancer
- Mutation in the gene, known as retinoblastoma, Rb
- Previous exposure to radiation therapy to cure cancer
- Other medical conditions such as Paget’s disease of bone, Rothmund-Thomson syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Diamond-Blackfan anaemia
- Implantation of metal to repair previous fractures
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Types of Bone Cancer
It can be classified according to the type of cell where cancer first began. Some of the most common types include:
- Osteosarcoma: It is the most common type of bone sarcoma where the cancerous cells are produced in the bone. In rare cases, these cancers can even arise outside of bones, that are termed as extraskeletal osteosarcomas. This form of bone cancer is common in children in adults, particularly in the arms and legs.
- Chondrosarcoma: It is the second most common form of bone cancer. Here, the cancerous cells are produced in the cartilage. Cartilage is a resilient and smooth elastic tissue, a rubber-like padding that covers and protects the ends of long bones at the joints. Chondrosarcoma usually occurs in the pelvis, legs or arms in middle-aged and older adults.
- Ewing Sarcoma: It is a malignant small, round, blue cell tumour. It is a rare disease in which cancer cells are found in the bone or in soft tissue. It commonly affects regions of the pelvis, legs, and arms in children.
- Fibrosarcoma: It is a rare form of bone cancer that arises behind the knee in adults.
- Chordoma: It is a very rare cancer usually seen in people over 30 years of age. It is most commonly located in either the lower or upper ends of the spinal column.
- Pleomorphic sarcoma (Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma): Pleomorphic sarcomas are typically not cancers of bone but of soft tissues. However, they may arise in the bone in up to 5% of cases. Pleomorphic sarcomas typically occur in adults and found anywhere in the body.
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Is Bone Cancer Curable? Bone Cancer Treatment
The answer is yes! It is curable but the treatment options for your bone cancer depends on the type of cancer, stage of cancer and other factors. From surgery to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, there are different treatment options for bone sarcoma.
Surgical procedures carried out to remove the cancerous cells and tissues of the bone without requiring amputation of the affected limb. Sometimes, muscles and other tissues that surround cancer also have to remove. Reconstructive surgery may be needed, in addition to cancer resection, to help maximize the function of the limb. However, bone cancers that have spread to the larger part of the body or those located in a complicated joint may require surgery to remove the entire part of the limb (amputation). In that case, your doctors will provide you with an artificial limb and all other training sessions to help you learn and cope up with day to day tasks with your new limb.
A Radiation therapy is a major treatment for chondrosarcoma whereas some type of osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma may require chemotherapy. Likewise, Radiation therapy uses high powered rays, such as X-rays to kill the cancer cells. This therapy helps to shrink the cancerous cells and can be removed easily if surgery is needed.
Furthermore, Radiation therapy may also be used in people with bone sarcoma that can’t be removed with surgery. After surgery, radiation therapy may be used to kill any cancer cells that may be left behind. For people with advanced bone cancer, radiation therapy may help control signs and symptoms, such as pain.
It includes strong anti-cancer drugs, usually delivered through a vein (intravenously), to kill cancer cells. However, this type of treatment works better for some forms of bone cancer than for others. For example, chemotherapy is generally not very effective for chondrosarcoma, but it’s an important part of treatment for osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma.