Bone cancer is a cancerous tumour in the bone, destroying the normal bone tissues. Tumours on bone tissues are not always cancerous or malignant, they are mostly benign. Primary bone cancer is when the malignant tumour begins to form in the tissues of the bones, but when these cancerous cells spread to other body parts like breasts, prostate or lungs, it is called metastatic cancer. Primary bone cancer is less common than metastatic cancer.
Bone cancer can be of three different types:
Osteosarcoma: In this case, the malignant tumour arises from the osteoid bone tissue. This occurs mainly in the upper arm and knee areas.
Chondrosarcoma: In this case the cancerous cells form in the cartilaginous tissues, causing a lot of pain. This occurs mostly in the pelvic area.
The Ewing sarcoma generally arises in the bone but it can also form in the soft tissues. Other kinds of soft tissues affecting cancerous cells are known as soft tissue sarcomas.
There aren’t many clear defined causes; however, several factors have been identified by researchers.
Osteosarcoma is seen to occur more frequently in people who have been through a high external radiation therapy dose.
In people who have frequently been treated with anticancer medications, children tend to be most affected.
Heredity may be an adding cause, although the percentage of hereditary transfer of cancer cells is very low.
People with hereditary bone defects or implants have a higher chance of acquiring bone cancer.
The most common and saddening symptom of bone cancer is painful, although not all bone cancers cause pain. Unusual or persistent swelling or pain around a bone maybe a red flag for bone cancer. In case of a situation like this, immediate doctor’s opinion is required.
Usually, diagnosis of a bone cancer can be made using X-rays; for example, a bone scan, a computed tomography scan, a magnetic imaging procedure—positron emission tomography, and an angiogram. Biopsy and blood tests are also helpful in bone cancer diagnosis.
The size, location and stage of cancer, age, and health of the person decide the kind of treatment that should be given to the patient. Various treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and cryosurgery.
The combined survival rate of all sorts of bone cancers is 70%. This percentage may vary with the type of bone cancer and also its stage.