Bone cancer occurs when atypical mass tissue grows out of control in your bone. When cancer cells grow in the bone, it harms normal bone tissue. Cancers that form in the bone are called primary bone cancers. Cancers that begin in other parts of the body and spreads to the bone are called secondary or metastatic bone cancers.
Bone cancers are very rare. As a matter of fact, they only make up less than 1% in the United States. Noncancerous bone tumors are much more common than the cancerous ones. When the tumor is malignant it can grow aggressively and spread to other parts of the body. The malignant tumor is then refereed as cancerous.
Bone cancer can develop at any age, but it is more common to children, teenagers, and young adults.
TYPES OF BONE CANCER
Primary bone cancers are the most serious type of bone cancers as they form directly in the bones or surrounding tissue.
Common types of primary bone cancers include:
· Osteosarcoma (osteogenic sarcoma) – this is the most common type of bone cancer. It has the tendency to start at the tips of the large bones, such as the arms and legs. This usually affects the hard tissue that provides the outer layer of the bones.
· Ewing’s sarcoma – this either begins in the soft tissues surrounding the bones or directly in the bones. It commonly affects the pelvis and the long bones of the body, such as the arms and legs. This is also the second most common type of bone cancer.
· Chondrosarcoma – this usually begins in the cartilage. The cartilage is the soft connective tissue that allows the movement between the joints and bones. This cancer also typically forms in the arms, legs, or pelvic bone. This is the least common type of bone cancer.
· Multiple myeloma – though not considered as a primary bone cancer because it begins in the plasma cells. This occurs when the cancer cells grow in the bone marrow.
Some people with bone cancer have no symptoms other than feeling a painless lump, and for others a variety of symptoms can develop. Some of the symptoms occur because of other conditions, such as arthritis, causing delay to the diagnosis of bone cancer. The most common signs and symptoms of bone cancer includes:
· Bone pain
· Swelling and tenderness at the affected area
· Unexplained weight loss
· Weakened bones
STAGING OF BONE CANCER
There are different stages that doctors use to describe where the cancer is and how much it has affected other parts of the body:
· Stage 1 – the cancer cells are still localized (didn’t spread yet)
· Stage 2 – the cancer cells hasn’t spread but may become invasive
· Stage 3 – the cancer cells has spread to other areas but within the same bone
· Stage 4 – cancer cells have already spread to the other parts of the body
Experts are not certain as to the causes of bone cancer. Although most types of bone cancer have been linked to hereditary factors while others are being linked to previous exposure to radiation and other cancer treatments.
Common treatments for bone cancer can include:
· Limb salvage surgery – this is when doctors remove part of the bone with cancer. But not the muscles, tendons, and other tissues.
· Amputation – if the tumor is large and has already reached the nerves and blood vessels, the doctor will remove the limb and replace it with a prosthetics
· Radiation therapy – this treatment is used before surgery to shrink the tumor so less tissue has to be removed during surgery
· Chemotherapy – this are cancer drugs used to kill the tumor. Doctors recommend it before and after surgery, or for metastatic cancer
· Targeted therapy – this drug treatment is used to target certain genetic, protein or other changes in or around the cancer cells
Since there’s really no known causes for bone cancer, there is also no known way to prevent it. Although most cases of bone cancer are treated successfully. In some instances, cancer never recur. Some patients may need to continue with treatments to prevent cancer from spreading.
When you feel symptoms or have observed painless lump and swelling, please book an appointment with your health provider as soon as possible. Fully understanding the symptoms and receiving an accurate diagnosis early on can greatly help with your chances to full recovery.