what is bone cancer..?
how it spreads...?
Bone cancer is a type of cancer that can affect both children and adults, although it is more common in children and teens. It is categorized based on whether the cancer originated in the bone (primary) or whether it spread from another location to the bone (secondary). Secondary bone cancer, or cancer that has spread to the bone from another part of the body, is much more common than primary bone cancer. In fact, primary bone cancer is considered rare. We'll focus specifically on primary bone cancer here.
There are several types of primary bone cancer, including:
- Ewing's sarcoma
- malignant fibrous histiocytoma
Osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, and Ewing's sarcoma are the most commonly diagnosed types of bone cancer. Other types of cancer can occur in the bone, such as lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Lymphoma most often develops in the lymph nodes, but can begin in the bone. Multiple meyeloma affects the bone marrow cells, not the actual cells of the bone, so it is not characterized as a true bone cancer.
Causes of Bone CancerAlthough we can't pinpoint exactly why malignant bone tumors form, researchers have discovered that some hereditary conditions can increase the risk of bone cancer. Examples of hereditary conditions that may increase the risk of bone cancer include:
Adults with Paget's disease of the bone may also be at an increased risk of developing bone cancer.
Previous radiation therapy treatment has been associated with bone cancer. This correlation is strongest if the radiation therapy was given during childhood. This, however, does not make having radiation therapy as cancer treatment harmful or unsafe. For most people with cancer, the benefit of having radiation therapy far exceeds any risks. This risk does not include radiation exposure from routine x-rays.
Symptoms of Bone CancerSymptoms may vary based on the type of bone cancer, but pain is the most commonly experienced symptom. Bone cancer most often occurs in the long bones of the body (arms and legs), so these are the most common sites for pain. Keep in mind that not all bone tumors are cancerous; some are benign. Bone pain is more often related to a benign condition, like an injury, than it is to cancer.
Other symptoms of bone cancer include:
- joint tenderness or inflammation
- fractures due to bone weakness
Diagnosing Bone CancerSymptoms combined with other findings during a physical exam may suggest the presence of bone cancer, but additional tests are needed to confirm any suspicion.
Imaging tests, like x-rays, MRIs, and CT scans, help identify any bone abnormalities. Other tests may include a bone scan, a specialized nuclear imaging test that allows doctors to see the metabolic activity of the bone. Bone scans identify areas in the bone that have new growth or have broken down -- excellent indicators of conditions.
Ultimately, it is a bone biopsy that will rule out or confirm the presence of cancer. A bone biopsy involves the removal of a small amount of bone tissue to be examined under a microscope. It usually takes less than an hour and can be done as an outpatient or surgical procedure.
Doing a biopsy on someone with primary bone cancer can be complex because there is a risk of spreading the cancer during the procedure. The procedure should be done by a surgeon who has experience performing bone biopsies on those with primary bone cancer.
If cancer is detected, it is then graded and staged by a pathologist. Grading and staging classifications vary based on the type of bone cancer. Ideally, the pathologist examining the sample will be experienced in diagnosing bone cancer.
Treatment of Bone CancerThe key to successful treatment is having a treatment team that is experienced in primary bone cancer. Many types of bone cancer are very rare, and having a team that is highly experienced in managing bone cancer is a necessity. Several different types of doctors make up these unique treatment teams and include medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, surgical oncologists, orthopedic oncologists, and specialized pathologists.
Surgery: Bone cancer is most commonly treated with surgery. Surgical treatment for bone cancer that has not spread involves removing the cancerous tissue and a small margin of healthy bone tissue surrounding it. Some tumors may require chemotherapy or radiation therapy in addition to surgical treatment.
Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses specific types high energy beams of radiation to shrink tumors or eliminate cancer cells. Radiation therapy works by damaging a cancer cell's DNA, making it unable to multiply. Although radiation therapy can damage nearby healthy cells, cancer cells are highly sensitive to radiation and typically die when treated. Healthy cells that are damaged during radiation are resilient and are often able to fully recover.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is often prescribed to treat bone cancer. Chemotherapy drugs work by eliminating rapidly multiplying cancer cells. However, there are other healthy cells in the body that multiply just as quickly, such as hair follicle cells. Unfortunately, many chemotherapy drugs may not be able to discern the two, attacking healthy cells and causingside effects like hair loss.
Bone cancer can be primary bone cancer or secondary bone cancer. Primary bone cancer starts in the bone; the cancer initially forms in the cells of the bone, while secondary cancer starts elsewhere in the body and spreads to the bone.
Primary bone cancer starts in the bone; the cancer initially forms in the cells of the bone, while secondary cancer starts elsewhere in the body and spreads to the bone. Examples of primary bone cancer include steosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma, malignant fibrous histiocytoma, and chondrosarcoma.
The following groups of people may be at a higher risk of developing bone cancer (risk factors):Being a child or very young adult - most cases of bone cancer occur in children or young adults aged up to 20.Patients who have received radiotherapy.People with a history of Paget's disease.People with a close relative (parent or sibling) who has/had bone cancer. TREATMENT
Surgery is the usual treatment for bone cancer. ...Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells. ...Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, involves the use of high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells.PREVENTION
The exact cause of most bone cancers is not known. There are no known lifestyle changes to lower the risk of developing bone cancer.