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Osteosarcoma: Treatment, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: May 20, 2024

What is the Osteosarcoma?

Osteosarcoma is a form of cancer in the bones of the body. It is more commonly found in teenaged kids, even though both younger and older patients are also known to suffer from the same. However, boys are at a greater risk of Osteosarcoma. The disease is caused when the cells near the bone form a cancerous tumour.

The treatment for the disease depends on how fast it is diagnosed and how much the cancer has spread in the body of the patient. Early detection drastically improves the chances of recovery. Chemotherapy and surgery are the preferred course of treatment for the cancer.

Osteosarcoma may occur at any part of the body for adults, but for children and teens, the cancer tumour is mainly found near the long bones and where the bone is thickest. For instance, the lower end of the thigh bone, the upper part of the shin bone and the bones in the shoulder are prime spots for the cancer to occur in kids.

Warning signs for the disease include the appearance of swelling or lumps at the end of the bone. Some people may also report joint pain, while others suffer fractures in their bones without any justifiable cause. Some kids develop a limp if the osteosarcoma is caused in the leg bones.

How is the Osteosarcoma treatment done?

Treatment for the condition depends on different factors. For instance, doctors consider the age and health of the patient along with the region where the cancer has been caused and the progression of the disease. Usually, a mixture of chemotherapy and surgery is used to treat the condition. Chances of complete recovery increases if the disease is diagnosed early.

Surgery is used to remove the tumor from the limbs of the patient. If the tumor is smaller in size, doctors may be able to save the limb itself, but if the growth is relatively large and spread to the blood vessels, amputation may be necessary.

In rare cases, the tumour may also be caused on other parts of the body, where surgery may become even more complex. In such cases, radiation therapy may be required to reduce the tumour growth.

Chemotherapy is a method through which powerful medications are introduced in the body. These medications kill cancer cells and impede their growth. Chemo is administered through an IV tube. The timing for the infusion and the frequency for the chemotherapy depends from one patient to the next. Usually, chemotherapy is used to reduce the size of the tumour, so that surgery can be used to get rid of the same.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

People who are diagnosed with Osteosarcoma need to seek treatment for the same immediately. Postponing the treatment may allow the tumour to grow larger and cause even more damage. However, the doctor will decide the course of treatment suitable for a particular patient suffering from Osteosarcoma.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

People who have some other kind of cancer apart from Osteosarcoma may need to follow a different course of treatment and are not eligible for the treatment. Furthermore, if you are not diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, you should not seek the treatment.

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Are there any side effects?

Chemotherapy is one of the primary forms of treatment for the condition. The medication used in the process can cause severe side effects include fatigue, hair loss, Anemia, nausea, vomiting, constipation and more. Most people undergoing chemotherapy experience a lot of health issues during the treatment and maintaining a normal lifestyle may become difficult. Doctors may also prescribe additional medications to subdue the side effects from the treatment.

Surgery is often also used along with chemotherapy. The procedure involves removing the cancer tumour from the body of the patient. While the operation is safe in case of smaller tumours, it can lead to amputation of limbs in case of larger tumour growth.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

After the disease has been treated, survivors need to pay regular visit to the doctor for diagnostic tests and check ups to ensure that the cancer has not relapsed or that the medications used for the treatment did not have a long-lasting side effect to the health of the patient. Physical therapy is also often advised to survivors along with rehabilitation. These procedures can aid them in getting back to a normal life.

How long does it take to recover?

The patient suffering from Osteosarcoma may take anywhere between a year to up to 5 years from the time of diagnosis till the time that the cancer has completely been eliminated. However, this depends on a number of factors and there is no set rule for how soon or how long the treatment may take to show effect.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Each chemo session may cost anywhere between Rs. 1.5 Lakhs to Rs. 2.5 Lakhs, depending on the place of treatment. Furthermore, the medication and surgery cost may also be substantial. At the end of the day, the entire treatment for Osteosarcoma may cost you anywhere between Rs. 20 Lakhs to Rs. 50 Lakhs.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Results of the treatment may not always be permanent. A person who suffered from Osteosarcoma has a greater chance of getting the same or a different form of cancer at a later point of time in their life. Often the body may seem cancer free, but the cancer may recur after some time, which is why doctors need to keep a close eye on the patient and see if any cancer cells form in the body.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Some people try out photodynamic therapies or holistic approach in order to treat the Osteosarcoma. However, there is no evidence that states that any of these procedures work or provide any benefit to the patient. So, it is best to consult a professional physician and begin treatment for the cancer.

References

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Written ByDr. Chirag Dalal MS - OrthopaedicsOrthopaedics
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