What is Bone Cancer?
Bone cancer is the cancer of the bones, when a tumour or abnormal mass of tissue is formed in the bone. Bone cancer includes the cancers that has the origin elsewhere in the body & has metastasized or spread to the bone. Cancer that begins in the bones is rare.
Types of Bone Cancer
Primary Bone Cancers
Cancers that start in the bone, muscle or the surrounding connective tissue (cartilage) and are most serious type of bone cancer.
Common types of primary bone cancer are:-
Osteosarcoma starts in the bone cells & tumors may develop in bones of the arms, legs or pelvis.
Ewing’s Sarcoma commonly affects the long bones of the body like the leg bone & the pelvis.
Secondary Bone Cancers
Secondary Bone Cancers also called as Bone Secondaries or Bone Metastasis are tumors that originated in some other organ (e.g., breast) and have metastated to the bones.
Signs & Symptoms of Bone Cancer
- Swelling & pain the area of the affected bone.
- Palpable hard mass or lump that can be felt in the limbs of the affected area.
- Weakening of bones leading to fracture
- Weight loss
Causes of Bone Cancer
- Inherited genetic disorders like hereditary retinoblastoma.
- Paget’s disease (disturbs the process of the replacement of old bone tissue with new bone tissue).
- Exposure to large doses of Radiation therapy may also lead bone cancer.
- Abnormal healing of an injury.
- Family history of bone cancer.
Stages of Bone Cancer
- Stage I: Cancer is confined to the bone
- Stage II: Cancer is confined to the bone but may spread to other tissues as well.
- Stage III: Cancer has spread to other areas of the bone.
- Stage IV: Cancer has spread to the surrounding tissues of the bone and to other organs like the lungs or brain.
Diagnosis of Bone Cancer
- A sample tissue is removed and send for examination to diagnose cancer
- Bone Scan to check the conditions of the bones
- Blood tests
- X- Ray
- CT Scan
Treatment of Bone Cancer
Bone Cancer is treated through a combination of the following interventions.
Surgical options for treatment of bone cancer are:
- Limb sparing surgical resection- This process involves the surgical removal of the disease while preserving the affected limb.
- Bone Grafting- Bone grafting is the process by which new bone is surgically placed around fractures to increase the healing.
- Surgery- Surgical removal of affected tissues.
- Amputation- In cases where the bone in the arms or legs is severely diseased, amputation may be needed. This is the last resort considered.
Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer drug that helps to slow or stop the growth of rapidly dividing cells that cause cancer. It prevents the growth of rapidly dividing cells by killing the dividing cells. Chemotherapy is often used in combination with other interventions such as surgery or radiation and other therapies.
Sometimes, chemotherapy is administered prior to a surgery, like therapy can be used to shrink a tumour before surgery. This is called as Neo-adjuvant Therapy. And when chemotherapy is used to remove any remaining cancer cells after surgery, this is known as Adjuvant Chemotherapy (Read more on: Chemotherapy)
What are the early signs of bone cancer?
Bone pain,swelling and tenderness near the affected area & weakened bone, leading to fracture.
Can you survive stage 4 bone cancer?
Stage 4 bone cancer prognosis depends on the nature of the cancer and the extent it has spread to other organs in the body.
Is bone cancer in the spine curable?
Cancer that has spread to the bones may not be cured. Treatments can help reduce pain and other symptoms of bone metastases.
Can osteoporosis be mistaken for bone cancer?
Most of the people who have osteoporosis are women over the age of 50, but men can also suffer from this condition. It is especially difficult to distinguish bone metastasis from osteoporosis for older women with breast cancer.