INTRODUCTION: True bone cancer (aka primary bone cancer) affects over 2,000 people in the United States each year. Cancer that originates in the bone - primary bone cancer - is rare. Early diagnosis and treatment of this disease increases the likelihood of survival. Children and young people are more likely than adults to develop cancer of the bones. In the past, amputation was common for bone cancer in an arm or leg.
CAUSE: Often, when people have bone cancer, it is caused by cancer that has metastasized ( spread ) from another place in the body to the bones rather than true cancer of bone cells.
TYPES: There are over 100 types of cancer, and each kind is named after the organ or tissue from which it came. Certain kinds of cancers are particularly likely to spread (metastasize) to the bones. It is important to remember that when these other types of cancer metastasize to the bone, they are still named for the tissue or organ where they came from and are not called "bone" cancer.
Many different types of cancer are able to metastasize (spread) to the bones. The most common types of cancer that spread to the bones are lung, breast, prostate, thyroid, and kidney.
There are several forms of bone sarcoma, depending upon the type of bone tissue where the tumor began. The most common forms of primary bone cancer are osteosarcoma, Ewing's sarcoma, and chondrosarcoma. Other, less frequent types include fibrosarcoma, malignant giant cell tumor, as well as chordoma.
SYMPTOMS: The symptoms of malignancy of the bone tend to occur slowly and depend on the form, location, and size of the tumor. Pain is the most frequent symptom of this malignancy and physicians sometimes use radiation therapy to shrink tumors to diminish the pressure, pain and other symptoms they may cause.
TREATMENT: Treatment depends on the form of bone cancer, as well as its location, size and stage. It may involve chemotherapy with multiple drugs as well as radiation therapy and surgery to get rid of the primary tumor.
Treating cancer that has spread to the bones (metastatic cancer) depends on the form of cancer (the tissue where it originated) and the extent of the spread. As with other malignancies, treatment depends on the size, type, location and stage of the cancer, including whether it has metastasized to the lungs or other parts of your body, and your overall health.
Your doctor may suggest using radiation therapy at different times during your cancer treatment and for different reasons, such as before surgery to shrink a cancerous tumor or after surgery to stop the growth of any remaining cancer cells.
A well-coordinated team of doctors - including surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists who are familiar with treatment of sarcomas - is important for increasing the chance you'll be able to have limb-sparing treatment. In some cases, chemotherapy may be the only treatment you need. More often, doctors use it in conjunction with other treatments, such as surgery or radiation, to improve results.
CONCLUSION: In contrast to cancers which have spread to the bone, true bone cancers are tumors that arise from the tissues of the bones. These cancers, called primary bone cancers, are quite rare in comparison to cancers that have spread to the bones.
Pain is the most frequent sign of bone cancer, but sometimes a lump on the bone can be felt through the skin. It is a rare occurence to have a true bone cancer, a tumor that arises from cells that make up the bone.
The treatment and prognosis for the disease depends upon many factors including the kind and extent of the cancer, the age of the patient and overall degree of health . It may be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of all of these.
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