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Bone cancer - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Published on Nov 27, 2020 and last reviewed on Aug 21, 2021   -  5 min read

Abstract

Uncontrolled growth of cells in the bone is called bone cancer. Read this article to know more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment

Contents
Bone cancer -  Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

What Is Bone Cancer?

The word cancer refers to the growth of abnormal cells in the body. Bone cancer refers to the uncontrolled growth of these cells in the bone. When cancer occurs in the skeletal system, it starts destroying the tissue. It can instantly spread to different organs such as the lungs. The treatment required for bone cancer is surgery.

What Are the Types?

There are two main types of cancer. They are primary and secondary bone cancer. In primary bone cancer type, cancer begins to develop directly in the cells of the bone. Secondary bone cancer type occurs when cancers begin to develop in other organs due to metastasis. Metastasis is the spread from the initial site to another site.

What Is Primary Bone Cancer?

Bone cancers can be either benign or malignant. Benign tumors are non-cancerous conditions, and malignant tumors are serious cancerous conditions. Benign tumors do not spread beyond their initial site. Malignant tumors are very aggressive. They have a very high risk of growing and spreading.

The examples of benign tumors are:

Osteoblastoma and giant cell tumors may start as a benign tumor and develop into a malignant one. Once they become aggressive, they begin to cause damage to the adjacent cells.

Examples of malignant primary bone tumors include:

Only the malignant ones are considered as cancerous.

This is the type of cancer that develops in the bone-forming cells called osteoblasts. Patients with Paget’s disease have a high risk of osteosarcoma.

Ewing’s sarcoma occurs in the bones of the pelvis, chest wall, or thighbone. It is known to occur in muscles, soft tissues, and blood vessels. It is a fast-growing one.

Chondrosarcoma is seen in adults. It occurs in the shoulders and pelvis.

Chondroma is a rare cancer of the spine. It is seen in adults.

What Is Secondary Bone Cancer?

The most common bone cancer type in adults is secondary bone cancer. They develop when cancer metastasis to the bone from other sites in the body. Most of the cancers can spread to the bone cells. People who are suffering from breast and prostate cancer have a high risk of developing secondary bone cancer. These types of cancers can cause fractures, pain, and hypercalcemia.

What Are the Symptoms and Signs?

The symptoms or signs experienced by patients with bone cancer are:

The other symptoms are:

What Are the Causes?

The causes of bone cancer are not known. However, there are certain factors contributing to the aggressive growth of tumors.

The high dosage of radiation may be a contributing factor.

Healthy cells begin to divide rapidly and replace older cells. After the completion of the dividing process, the abnormal cells start living.

What Are the Risk Factors?

How Is It Diagnosed?

The diagnosis and treatment always require a multidisciplinary approach. The oncologists take the help of various tests and tools to diagnose bone cancer. The major laboratory tests are:

There are two biopsy techniques to identify bone cancer. They are:

Cancer gives a different appearance to the bone. The affected bone looks ragged, and it might have a hole in it. A chest X-ray might help you determine whether cancer has spread to the lungs.

Bone cancer can identify whether the tumor has spread to other organs. This test is highly sensitive. It can detect metastases even before they could appear on a regular X-ray.

Magnetic resonance imaging may help to find the outline of a tumor. It might also identify the spread to the spinal cord and brain.

Computed tomography scans are used to identify cancer in areas which are difficult to be found out by other procedures. It can also be used to guide the biopsy needle during a biopsy procedure.

Positron emission tomography scans do not show many details. But when they often are performed in combination with computed tomography scans, the diagnosis results are more accurate.

What Is Staging?

After the test results are obtained, doctors will describe the severity of bone cancer. Staging helps a person to understand the severity and degree of spread of the tumor.

What Is the Grading of Cancer?

What Are the Stages of Bone Cancer?

There are different stages of bone cancer. They are:

What Are the Treatment Options?

Depending on the stage and location of the disease, there are various treatment options. The bone cancer experts will suggest a treatment plan that might work for you.

The treatment options are:

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Frequently Asked Questions


1.

Where Does Bone Cancer Usually Start?

Bone cancer can begin at any part of bone in the body. The commonly involved bones are long bones of the arms and legs. Pelvic bones are also affected. It is a rare form of cancer. The noncancerous type of bone cancers are more common than the cancerous type of bone cancer.

2.

Can Bone Cancer Be Cured?

The pain and fractures caused in the bone can be treated effectively. If the bone cancer has spread to different regions of the body, then it is difficult to cure bone cancer. Bone cancer can be easily cured in earlier stages. In most cases, cancer can be cured completely.

3.

How Dangerous Is Bone Cancer?

Cancer that is formed directly in the bone or surrounding cartilaginous tissue is known as primary bone cancer. Cancer that has occurred due to the spreading of primary cancer is known as secondary cancer. Primary bone cancer is more serious and life-threatening than secondary bone cancer.

4.

How Long Can a Person Live With Bone Cancer?

The average life expectancy of patients with bone cancer are five years. The majority of the patients get a permanent cure after proper treatment. The diagnosis at the earlier stage would add to the lifespan of the individual. You can get help from your doctor to make the treatment more efficient.

5.

Does Bone Cancer Spread Fast?

The majority of bone cancers are known to spread slowly. The common type of bone cancer, chondrosarcoma, is also known to have a slow degree of progression. The spreading of cancer depends on the health status of the individual. People who have poor immune conditions have a faster rate of spreading of cancer.

6.

Who Is Most Likely to Get Affected by Bone Cancer?

People belonging to the age of 10-30 years are most likely to be affected by bone cancer. A few patients who were noted to be affected by osteosarcoma were 60-70 years old. The occurrence of bone cancer is very rare in middle-aged people. Men are most commonly affected than women.

7.

Is Bone Cancer a Painful Condition?

The common sign of bone cancer is bone pain. It occurs as a dull pain in some patients, while in others, a deep ache happens in the affected site. Pain is known to aggravate during the nighttime and in situations where the individual is very active.

8.

What Is the Last Stage of Bone Cancer?

Stage 4 is the last stage of bone cancer. In this stage, cancer has spread to different tissues beyond the bone. The tumor might have grown into any abnormal size along with the involvement of the lymph nodes.

9.

How Do You Get Bone Cancer?

The causes of bone cancer are:
- Abnormal growth of the cell.
- The complication of radiation therapy. An increase in the patient's dosage of radiation will serve as a cause for bone cancer.
- Gene mutation.
- Heredity.

10.

Can Bone Cancer Be Seen on X-Ray?

Yes, bone cancer can be seen using X-ray. In the presence of cancer, the bone appears in a different manner. The affected sites of the bone might look ragged along with a hole in it. You should get recommendations from your doctor before going for a diagnostic procedure.

11.

Is Pelvic Bone Cancer Curable?

The cancer of the pelvic bone is a life-threatening condition. The patient will suffer weakness in the hip bones along with bone pain. The patient might feel tired all the time and experiences severe weight loss. The complete cure for pelvic bone cancer is not possible. The quality of life is severely disturbed in patients with pelvic bone cancer.

12.

Can Bone Cancer Be Cured With the Help of Chemotherapy?

Yes, bone cancer can be cured with chemotherapy, but it works efficiently only for a few types of bone cancer. The doctors prescribe the anti-cancer drug because these drugs are good in identifying the cancer cells.

13.

How Do They Check for Bone Cancer?

Bone cancer can be checked using the following diagnostic methods:
- Bone scan.
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).
- CT scan.
- X-ray.
- Biopsy.

14.

Does Bone Cancer Pain Start Suddenly?

The pain in bone cancer is always unpredictable. The pain is known to be intermittent. After some time, it becomes more severe and constant. Pain is aggravated by movements and especially during the night time. If you are experiencing severe pain, contact your doctor immediately.

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Last reviewed at:
21 Aug 2021  -  5 min read

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