Bone Cancer

Cancer that develops in the bones


By Vishal Ingole, Medical Research EditorLast modified: October 12, 2011



Bone Cancer

Bone cancer treatments, whether for primary bone cancer or secondary bone cancer, generally depend upon the location, size, type and stage of the cancer. The various treatment options for bone cancer range from surgery to radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Bone Cancer Defined

Bone cancer can originate as a ‘primary tumor’ that arises in the bone or bone-derived cells or as a ‘secondary tumor’ that arise in other sites and spread or metastasize. Bone tumors are more common in children and teenagers than in older people. In older people, this cancer is generally due to a metastatic spread from some other tumor.

Symptoms Of Bone Cancer

The usual symptoms of bone cancer include swelling, persistent pain or bone tenderness. Besides, unexplained fractures may occur, with or without conspicuous trauma.

Diagnosing Bone Cancer

Destruction of bone is normally the radiologic finding in X-rays. If a patient is aware of a malignant tumor and presents an agonizing bone lesion, the diagnosis of metastasized cancer can be done. If the primary cancer is not recognized, CAT scan, Radionuclide bone scan, skeletal survey or MRI scan be conducted.

Causes Of Bone Cancer

Although specific causes of bone cancer are not yet known, multiple researches have revealed that people with certain risk factors are more likely to get afflicted with this condition than others. However, it is certain that it is not a contagious condition.

Risk Factors Of Bone Cancer

A series of factors that may aggravate the chances of developing bone cancer are as follows:

Genetically inherited conditions, such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Rothmund-Thompson syndrome, retinoblastoma and multiple exostoses can increase the risk of cancer in bones substantially.
Paget’s disease is a non-cancerous condition that can weaken the bones and hence, lead to the most common type of bone cancer called osteosarcomas.

High doses of radiation can potentially enhance the risk of bone cancer.

Treatment For Bone Cancer

Bone cancer treatments usually depend on the type of cancer, the stage of cancer, the overall health and preference of the sufferer.

Surgery: The doctors may remove the tumor and some portion surrounding it surgically. Treatment may involve the entire limb to be removed, if the cancer is large or is located in a complicated area. Else, if the tumor can be separated from nerves and other tissues, it may be possible to spare the limb.

Radiation: In this method, the cancer cells are obliterated by strong energy beams like X-rays. Energy beams are aimed at specific points, targeting the tumor cells. Radiation therapy is often conducted post-surgery also in order to expunge any cells which might have been left behind.

Chemotherapy: This method involves the use of drugs to destroy the cancer cells. It is given intravenously and the medication travels throughout the body.

Combined Treatment: Chemotherapy, alone or in combination with radiation, is used before a surgery to shrink the size of the tumor so that the limb can be spared.

Hormone therapy: In this method, either organs which secrete hormones that promote certain types of cancer are removed or drugs are administered to keep the cancer-promoting hormones in check.

Prevention Of Bone Cancer

Since the actual causes of bone cancer are unknown, there is no real way to prevent it except by minimizing the exposure to risk factors such as chemo or radiation therapy. In addition, a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and regular exercise can overall abate the risk of developing cancer.











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