Bone Cancer

5 September, 2020

All the bones inside our bodies are formed with two types of cells, namely osteoclasts and osteoblasts. Osteoclast cells are responsible for dissolving old bones. On the other hand, osteoblast cells help in the formation and maintenance of new bones. In the normal scenario, our bone cells are aware of their growth limits. However, due to several reasons, our bones develop abnormal cells that grow uncontrollably. This results in the formation of a tumour.

It is important to know that most of these tumours are harmless. Only a very few turn cancerous. Bone cancer is very rare – only 0.2% of cancers are related to bones. Most of the cancer cases that are related to bone are metastatic cancers, which have come to the bone from other parts of the body. So these don’t originate in the bone.

Bone cancer treatment depends on several things, including whether it is metastatic or primary, the type of bone cancer, the size of the tumour, and others. It usually includes a multidisciplinary approach that involves different treatment modalities, such as chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy amongst others. If you compare the treatment that is available now to what it was about a decade ago, you will find a significant improvement. For example, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre, a hospital for dedicated cancer treatment in Delhi, has all the advanced equipment as well as an experienced team of doctors, to provide the best care and treatment to cancer patients. Newer innovations have made things a lot better now.

Types of bone cancer

Cancers that originate in bones are called sarcomas. These are primary cancers, of which osteosarcoma is the most common type. This type of cancer is mostly found in children and young adults. It is usually formed in legs or arms.

Other bone cancers include Ewing sarcoma and chondrosarcoma. The former occurs in children and young adults while the latter is mostly found in people above 40 years of age. Both these types of bone cancers can form in leg, pelvis, arm, shoulder, and areas of the body that consist of bones.

Symptoms of bone cancer

Abnormal cells that lead to bone cancer can grow in any bone inside the body. Osteosarcoma usually occurs in the long bones of the legs and arms. Most of the bone cancer symptoms are similar to the symptoms of other conditions, such as bone injury, arthritis, and osteoporosis amongst others. So it becomes important to visit a doctor and discuss your symptoms. This will help you identify the cause and get the right treatment. Here are a few possible bone cancer symptoms:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Reduced mobility
  • Fractures
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

Bone cancer diagnosis

Doctors usually turn to imaging tests to determine the size and location of cancerous tumours. These tests also help in identifying whether or not cancerous cells have spread other parts. Doctors recommend imaging tests based on individual symptoms and signs. Some of these tests include:

  • X-ray
  • Computerised tomography or CT
  • Bone scan
  • Positron emission tomography or PET
  • Magnetic resonance imaging

Early and correct diagnosis is very important for identifying the right treatment.

Bone cancer treatment

There are a number of bone cancer treatments available these days. Technology has played a big part in the development of treatments that are more effective. However, the type of treatment varies depending on the location, size, and stage of bone cancer. Extensive testing and evaluation are done to ensure that doctors have the right information in front of them before preparing the treatment plan. A multidisciplinary team of doctors and specialists work together to develop a treatment plan that takes into account the specific needs of patients.

The objective of treating primary bone cancer is to remove or destroy the cancer tumour as quickly as possible. This is done by choosing a combination of treatment modalities, including chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. In some cases, surgical procedures are performed in such a way that patients only lose the affected area, keeping the rest of the normal bone. Also, there are several implants and reconstructions available to help patients in leading normal lives. When it comes to metastatic cancer, the primary objective is to reduce discomfort and pain while the treatment is underway.


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