Bone cancer can be distinguished into primary bone cancer or secondary bone cancer. Primary Bone Cancer starts in the bone where the cancer spreads within the cells of the bone. Secondary cancer, on the other hand, starts elsewhere in the body and spreads to the bones. Examples of primary bone cancer include Osteosarcoma, Ewing Sarcoma, Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma and Chondrosarcoma.
The most common symptom of bone tumours is pain, which gradually increases over time. A person may go weeks, months, and sometimes years before seeking help; the pain increases with the growth of the tumour.
Additional symptoms may include:
Many patients will not experience any symptoms giving rise to difficulty in prognosis, except for a painless mass which can often be a sure shot sign. Some bone tumours may weaken the structure of the bone causing pathologic fractures.
Although bone cancer does not have a clearly defined cause, researchers have identified several factors that increase the likelihood of developing these tumours.
Osteosarcoma occurs more frequently in people who have had high-dose external radiation therapy or treatment with certain anticancer drugs; children seem to be particularly susceptible.
A small number of bone cancers are due to heredity. For example, children who have had hereditary retinoblastoma (an uncommon cancer of the eye) are at a higher risk of developing osteosarcoma, particularly if they are treated with radiation.
Additionally, people who have hereditary defects of bones and people with metal implants, which doctors sometimes use to repair fractures, are more likely to develop osteosarcoma.
The following groups of people may be at a higher risk of developing bone cancer:
The doctor may order a blood test to rule out other possible causes for the patient's symptoms. The patient will then be referred to a bone specialist (orthopedic surgeon) to examine the bone tumour. The following diagnostic tests may be ordered:
The type of treatment for bone cancer depends on several factors, including what type of bone cancer it is, where it is located, how aggressive it is, and whether it is localized or has spread. Some of the latest bone cancer treatment options that available are:
Surgery – in this form of bone cancer treatment, the aim is to remove the tumour, all of it if possible, and some of the bone tissue that surrounds it. If some of the cancer is left behind after surgically removing the tumour it may continue to grow and eventually spread. Limb sparing surgery, also known as limb salvage surgery means that surgical intervention occurs without having to amputate the limb. During the leg or arm treatment, the surgeon may take some bone from another part of the body to replace lost bone (bone graft), or an artificial bone may be put in. In some cases, however, amputation of a limb may be necessary during treatment.
Radiation Therapy – one of the advanced methods for bone cancer treatment it is also known as radiotherapy, radiation oncology and XRT. Approximately 40% of patients of all types of cancer undergo some kind of radiotherapy. It involves the use of beams of high-energy X-rays or particles (radiation) to destroy cancer cells for a certain duration based on treatment. Radiotherapy works by damaging the DNA inside the tumour cells, destroying their ability to reproduce during this metastatis treatment. This type of treatment is recommended for metastatic bone cancer treatment. Radiotherapy can be used for different reasons:
Given the benefits of radiation therapy, the patient must be vary of the side effects during the treatment which ranges from Fatigue(tiredness), Loss of Appetite & changes in the skin area where it treated. Common skin changes include redness, hair loss , blistering & peeling. There are also instances of low blood counts, nausea, vomiting and diarrheaa. At special instances, If the pain aggravates it would be advisable to talk to your treatment doctor.
Chemotherapy is the use of chemicals (medication) to treat disease - more specifically, it usually refers to the destruction of cancer cells. During the chemo treatment (or) chemotherapy for bone cancer, cytotoxic medication prevents cancer cells from dividing and growing. In general, chemotherapy has 5 possible goals: