Bone Cancer- All You Need to Know
by Dr. Subrata Saha | Published on 08/08/2023
In the sphere of medical challenges, few foes are as inscrutable and intimidating as cancer. Bone cancer evolves as a specifically silent and sneaky invader among other types of cancer. Bone cancer is among the rare conditions arising from the cells within or around the cells. When an individual is suffering from bone cancer, the cells begin to increase and aggressively keep multiplying until the entire bone is disrupted. Further, these cancer cells start to spread all over the body through blood circulation affecting multiple organs such as tissues, bones, or lungs.
It is important to gain information on bone cancer and its symptoms so that treatment can be considered on time. In this blog, our main aim is to create awareness about this disease, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options. However, kindly note that the information provided in this blog is entirely based on research and in-depth analysis. You should book your appointment with The Calcutta Medical Research Institute in Kolkata, one of the best multispeciality hospitals in Kolkata. They have the best and most experienced healthcare professionals who ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.
What is bone cancer?
Bone cancer is a condition that happens when there is a growth or formation of a tumor or a typical mass of tissue in the bone which is referred to as bone sarcomas. A tumor can be benign which indicates that it is developing fast and spreading to other body parts. A benign tumor is called cancerous. Bone cancer can occur in any part of the body, however, it mostly begins in the pelvic bone or long bones in the legs, arms, femur, or shinbone. Cancer that starts in the bones is not common but can be aggressive, hence early diagnosis is very important.
What are bone cancer types?
There are several bone cancer types which include:
- Osteosarcoma: It is among the most common bone cancer type and occurs in the cells where the formation of new bone tissue is in process. It can occur in any bone, however, often starts at the large bone end like arms and legs. It is often diagnosed in teenagers and children.
- Ewing sarcoma: This type has various varied tumors having similar attributes and is believed to be malignant in similar cell types. These are formed in the bones and around the soft tissues. This type often develops in the shoulder blades, ribs, hips, and long bones like legs.
- Chondrosarcoma: It starts in the tissue known as cartilage which is a soft connective tissue allowing movement between joints and bones. This cancer often is formed in the pelvis bones, legs, or arms. It is usually diagnosed more in adults than younger individuals.
- Chordoma: This tumor type starts in the spine bone i.e. spine base or skull base. It is often detected in older adults and men are more likely to suffer from this bone cancer type than females.
What are bone cancer stages?
Bone cancer stages are identified by their location and size, even if it hasn’t spread to other areas in the body. There are four bone stages which include:
- Stage 1: It is low-grade and the localization of cancer cells is still there.
- Stage 2: The tumor is high-grade, but the localization of cancerous cells is still there.
- Stage 3: This stage is a high-grade tumor and the cancer has spread to other areas in the body like the liver or lungs.
- Stage 4: Cancer is all around the bones to other body areas like the lungs or liver.
What are bone cancer symptoms?
Not every type of bone cancer causes pain, however, pain is one of the common bone cancer symptoms. Getting in touch with a doctor is recommended to identify the symptoms and what is causing them. Make sure to keep a note of the following symptoms:
- Always feeling fatigued
- Reduced motion range
- Bone pain started after minor trauma
- Pain in the bones that wakes you up suddenly in the middle of the night
- A palpable hard mass in the limb, pelvis, or chest bones
- Pain and swelling in the affected bones
- Sudden weight loss
- Broken bones
What are bone cancer causes?
Bone cancer causes are not known yet, however, some factors lead to enhancing the chances of atypical growth formation in the bone. Here are some of the causes:
- Atypical cellular growth: Healthy cells constantly split and reinstate older cells. After the completion of this process, they begin to die, although, atypical cells continue to live. They begin tissue masses formation which eventually transforms into tumors.
- Radiation therapy: The therapy is used for killing life-threatening cancerous cells and helps in treating bone cancer. However, osteosarcoma is formed in some patients and due to the high amount of radiation doses leads to tumor growth.
- Chromosomal mutations: Genetic mutations increase the risk of growing bone cancer that may be inherited, however, it is uncommon. Mutations can also occur as an outcome of radiation.
How is bone cancer diagnosed?
Bone cancer diagnosis will involve certain tests and the doctor will gain information about your symptoms and medical history. The doctor will view images of your bones by ordering imaging tests like:
- X-rays are ordered to view tumors and their size
- CT scans for creating detailed pictures through X-rays
- MRI scans to view the inside body through the use of a strong magnet
- PET scans to detect cancerous cells by injecting radioactive glucose
- Bone scans are performed through radioactive material insertion into your vein.
- Blood tests might be ordered to detect two enzymes indicating cancerous cells
What are the options for bone cancer treatment?
Your doctor will recommend certain options for bone cancer treatment. You need to note that the treatment depends on its location, stage, grade age, overall health, and its size. Here are some of the bone cancer treatment options:
- Medications ordered are chemotherapy, pain medications for inflammation and discomfort relief, bisphosphonates to avert bone loss and secure bone structure, cytotoxic drugs for stopping cancerous cell growth, and immunotherapy for encouraging the immune system to destroy cancer cells.
- Surgery is recommended for tumor removal or affected tissue. It helps in stopping the cancerous cells from spreading. Amputation might be required for extensive bone damage in the legs or arms.
- Radiation therapy helps in destroying cancerous cells and slows down the development of cancerous cells. It is also used when tumor removal is not sufficient through surgery.
- Complementary therapy involves herbal treatment options to plan your care. One should include this with complete careful consideration as some options can interfere with chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Complimentary therapy treatment options include aromatherapy, yoga, and meditation.
Being diagnosed with any type of cancer can bring a lot of emotions like frustration, anxiety, irritation, fear, and uncertainty. Bone cancer is one of the types of cancer, but it is rare. There are various treatment options available and can be treated efficiently. If you are diagnosed with bone cancer, make sure to get in touch with The Calcutta Medical Research Institute in Kolkata to understand your treatment options. You can consider joining a support group as a conversation with people experiencing similar emotions can help you feel better mentally, and emotionally, and will improve your spiritual health.
Is bone cancer curable?
Yes, bone cancer is curable if it hasn’t spread to other bones in the body.
Is bone cancer painful?
Yes, bone cancer is painful and often begins with a feeling of tenderness.