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What is Bone Cancer?

What is Bone Cancer?

Bone cancer is a rare form of cancer that originates in the bones. Unlike cancer that has spread to the bones from other organs, primary bone cancer begins within the bone itself. It can develop in any bone in the body but is most commonly found in the long bones of the arms and legs. There are different types of bone cancer, with osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, and Ewing sarcoma being among the most common.

Bone Cancer Staging:


Bone cancer staging is a process that helps determine the extent of cancer spread and guides treatment decisions. Staging takes into account factors like the tumor's size, whether it has spread to nearby tissues or lymph nodes, and if it has metastasized to distant organs.

Signs of Bone Cancer:

Signs of bone cancer may include persistent bone pain, swelling, and, in advanced cases, fractures. These symptoms often worsen over time and can be accompanied by fatigue and weight loss.

When to See a Doctor:

If you experience persistent bone pain, unexplained swelling, or other concerning symptoms, it's important to consult a healthcare provider. Early detection and diagnosis are crucial for effective treatment.

Causes of Bone Cancer:

The exact causes of bone cancer remain unclear, but genetic factors, previous radiation therapy, and certain underlying bone conditions may contribute to its development. Research is ongoing to better understand its origins.

Types of Bone Cancer:

There are several types of bone cancer, each originating from different bone cells. Osteosarcoma, for instance, originates from bone-forming cells, while chondrosarcoma develops from cartilage-forming cells. Ewing sarcoma primarily affects bone and soft tissue.

Bone Cancer Treatment:

Treatment for bone cancer typically involves a combination of surgery to remove the tumor, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. The specific treatment plan depends on the type, stage, and location of the cancer.
Surgery: Surgery is often the primary treatment for bone cancer. The goal is to remove the cancerous tumor while preserving as much healthy bone and function as possible. In some cases, limb-sparing surgery may be an option, while in others, amputation may be necessary to eliminate the cancer completely.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells or inhibit their growth. It may be administered before surgery to shrink the tumor, after surgery to eliminate remaining cancer cells, or as a standalone treatment for advanced bone cancer.

Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to target and kill cancer cells. It is typically used in conjunction with surgery to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence or as palliative care to alleviate symptoms and pain in advanced cases.

Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapy drugs are designed to target specific molecules or pathways involved in cancer growth. These therapies are often used when standard treatments are ineffective or as part of clinical trials.

Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy harnesses the body's immune system to fight cancer. While it has shown promise in various cancer types, its role in bone cancer treatment is still under investigation in clinical trials.

Clinical Trials: Participation in clinical trials offers access to cutting-edge treatments and therapies that may not be available through standard approaches. These trials aim to improve treatment outcomes and expand treatment options for bone cancer patients.
It's crucial for individuals diagnosed with bone cancer to consult with a specialized medical team to determine the most appropriate treatment plan based on their specific diagnosis.

Bone Cancer Survival Rate:

Survival rates for bone cancer depend on factors like the cancer type, stage, and the patient's overall health. Early detection and appropriate treatment can significantly improve the chances of a positive outcome. Overall, the five-year survival rate for bone cancer is around 70%.
Side Effects of Treatment for Bone Cancer:
Treatment for bone cancer can have side effects, including fatigue, nausea, hair loss, and an increased risk of infection. These side effects can vary depending on the type of treatment and individual factors. Healthcare providers work to manage and minimize these side effects while providing the most effective treatment possible.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bone Cancer

Where Does Bone Cancer Usually Start:

Bone cancer typically starts in the extremities, such as the arms and legs, but it can also develop in other bones like the pelvis and the spine. It often originates in the bone's cells and can affect both young and older individuals.

Who Is at Risk for Bone Cancer:

The risk factors for bone cancer are not well understood, but some factors that may increase the risk include having a family history of bone cancer, having certain genetic conditions, undergoing radiation therapy, and having certain bone diseases or Paget's disease.

Can a Benign Bone Tumor Become Cancerous:

Most benign bone tumors do not become cancerous. However, in rare cases, some benign tumors can undergo malignant transformation and develop into bone cancer. Regular monitoring and medical evaluation of benign bone tumors are essential to detect any potential changes.
* Liv Hospital Editorial Board has contributed to the publication of this content .
* Contents of this page is for informational purposes only. Please consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. The content of this page does not include information on medicinal health care at Liv Hospital .
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26 December 2023
Liv Editorial Board
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