Bone cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the bone and may spread to other bones as well as other parts of the body. Although it may develop in just about any bone, the condition usually affects the long bones such as those in the arms and legs. There are different types of bone cancer, with some affecting children while others occurring in adults.
Types of Bone Cancer
The types of bone cancer are based upon the kind of bone cell where the disease began. As earlier mentioned, there are lots of bone cancer types. Some of the most common ones include:
• Osteosarcoma – This begins in the cells of the long bones like the ones found in the arms or legs. It also mostly affects kids as well as young adults.
• Chondrosarcoma – This one originates in the cells of cartilages attached to the bones. It usually affects older adults, and commonly strikes cartilages in arms, legs and pelvis.
• Ewing’s sarcoma – experts are unsure where the problem in this type of bone cancer begins. However, it usually occurs in the arms, legs or pelvis of kids and young adults.
Just like with most other types of cancer, experts are not really sure what causes bone cancer. However, they are aware that there are a few factors that can considerably increase a person’s risk of having bone cancer.
One of these factors is having genetic syndromes that can be inherited. It is said that bone cancer may run in families due to certain syndromes that can be passed from one generation to the other. Paget’s disease, a condition affecting the bones, may leave the sufferer at a higher risk of developing bone cancer too. Being exposed to large doses of radiation is also regarded as a risk factor for bone cancer.
Signs and Symptoms
One of the most common symptoms of bone cancer is bone pain, although not all individuals with the disease suffer from it. Someone with bone cancer may also lose weight unintentionally and experience fatigue all the time. Having fractures is a common occurrence, as well as tenderness and inflammation near or around the affected bone.
Bone Cancer Diagnosis
There are various imaging tests available for diagnosing bone cancer. A doctor may recommend a patient to undergo one or more of them, depending on certain situations. Some tests for bone cancer include bone scan, x-ray, computerized tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scan.
A biopsy may also be recommended by a doctor. This medical procedure involves obtaining sample tissue from the affected bone in order to have it examined in the laboratory.
Stages of Bone Cancer
After confirming the presence of bone cancer through imaging tests and/or biopsy, the extent of the cancer is then identified. Bone cancer comes in the following stages:
• Stage I – Cancer is limited to the affected bone and has not spread to other bones or parts of the body.
• Stage II – This one is similar to stage I although the cancer cells are aggressive and can easily spread.
• Stage III – Cancer is present in two or more areas in the affected bone.
• Stage IV – Cancerous cells have already spread to other bones or parts of the body.
Bone Cancer Treatment
The best treatment for bone cancer depends on factors like the type of bone cancer, extent of the problem and health condition of the patient. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are treatments designed to kill off cancer cells. In some instances, these modes of treatment may be provided after surgery, another way of dealing with bone cancer.
There are bone cancer types, however, that may be treated with surgery only. Surgery for treating cancer may involve removing cancer cells but sparing the affected limb, or removing the limb if the problem is severe.