What Exactly Is Bone Cancer And How Is It Treated?

20 July 2023

Bone cancer, a rare disease, consists of a malignant tumor. This cancer, which affects many bones, can be seen especially  in the pelvis, arm, and leg bones.  Bone cancer can also spread to the lung and similar organs. This type of cancer can occur in both children and adults. As with other types of cancer, bone cancer also includes benign bone tumors. Positive results can be achieved in the treatment of bone cancer with early diagnosis. This cancer also referred to as primary bone cancer, develops in the skeletal system and causes tissue destruction.

Causes Of Bone Cancer

It is not possible to say that the causes of bone cancer are due to one clear thing. However, some factors affect the occurrence of this type of cancer.  The factors that cause bone cancer  are listed below:

  • To have received radiotherapy,
  • Having Paget’s disease of the bone,
  • Babies born with an umbilical hernia are more susceptible to Ewing’s sarcoma, a common type of bone cancer,
  • Inherited defective gene transfer,
  • Having Li-Fraumeni syndrome (a type of gene disorder),
  • Having been exposed to retinoblastoma in childhood
  • Family history of cancer
  • Genetic mutations
  • Environmental factors

It is possible to explain the factors that cause bone cancer in this way. In addition to this information, radiation applied to the disease affects this type of cancer. At the same time, the rapid growth of children can also cause this disease as it affects the bones. Unlike all this information, it is also known that bone cancer is most common in men.

Types of Bone Cancer

There are various types of bone cancer based on the cell type. They are divided into benign and malignant cancer types. While benign bone cancers are mostly seen, it is rare to see malignant bone cancers.  Chondrosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, osteosarcoma, and Ewing sarcoma  are among the common malignant cancers. 4 different types of these rare cancers are given below:

  1. Chondrosarcoma

Chondrosarcoma, which occurs in the articular cartilage and spreads to the bone, is a common type of malignant bone cancer. This rare type of cancer affects cells by producing cartilage tissue. This type of cancer is usually observed to occur  in the pelvis, hips, shoulders, or arms.  Chondrosarcoma is a malignant bone cancer most commonly seen in adults and the elderly.

  1. Fibrosarcoma

Fibrosarcoma cancer occurs when fibroblasts in the ureter multiply uncontrollably. This is an extremely rare type of bone cancer and most commonly occurs  in the bones of the legs and lower jaw.

  1. Ewing sarcoma

It is the most common type of malignant bone cancer. It is especially common in children and occurs  in the bones of the legs, arms, and pelvis.  In addition to affecting the bones, it also affects soft tissues. Therefore, it can also occur in muscle, fat, or blood vessels. Ewing sarcoma is most commonly caused by gene mutations.

  1. Osteosarcoma

It is a type of bone cancer most commonly seen in children and young people. This type of cancer caused by gene abnormalities usually occurs in the knee region. It can also occur in different tissues other than bone. In this case, they are called extraskeletal osteosarcomas. Osteosarcoma is also known to be a common type of bone cancer, like Ewing sarcoma.

Bone Cancer Symptoms 

The most important symptoms of bone cancer  are changes in bone appearance. First of all, pain in the bone area begins to appear in patients exposed to this disease. Bone pain that intensifies over time and does not go away may be a sign of this disease. Another symptom is swelling on the bone. A gradually appearing swelling, especially in the ribs and tibia, can be one of the symptoms of bone cancer. Other symptoms can be given as follows:

  • Spontaneous bone fracture
  • Swelling on the bone
  •  Inability to move quickly
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

If these symptoms do not manifest themselves, it is possible to talk about malignant bone cancer. However, as mentioned earlier,  the most important symptoms of bone cancer  are pain and swelling in the bone. In some cases, children complain of arm and leg pain. Although families attribute this to growth and development, it should be suspected if it is persistent. In addition, people who experience bone pain continuously throughout the day should also suspect bone cancer. Therefore, a doctor should be consulted and examined to clarify this suspicion.

Treatment For Bone Cancer

Early diagnosis and treatment play an important role in the cure of bone cancer. The Orthopedic and Traumatology Specialist listens to the patient’s complaints and performs the necessary tests. First, a physical examination is applied to take into account the appearance of the bone. Then, X-rays are taken and laboratory techniques are utilized. Tomography techniques should also be applied. Since it is a  comprehensive diagnostic process,  the patient is also asked for tests and biopsies. After all these tests are performed, the doctor decides whether or not the patient has bone cancer.

If bone cancer has been diagnosed, an appropriate course of treatment is started. At this point, the doctor takes into account the type, location, and level of bone cancer. Therefore, all these factors must be correctly determined and the treatment method must be decided. It should be noted that  surgical treatment is the most preferred  treatment for bone cancer. Because this treatment aims to remove the cancerous bone tissue from the area. Even after removal, there may be regrowth in the remaining part. To prevent this, chemotherapy is administered in addition to surgical treatment. Chemotherapy is a treatment with effective drugs.

Instead of surgical treatments, radiotherapy can now also be used for this disease. This treatment method, which targets cancer cells, allows these cells to be destroyed without surgery. Furthermore, depending on the level of bone cancer, immunotherapy may also be used. Therefore, these treatment methods are determined according to the patient’s general health, the condition of the bone, and the patient’s previous disease history. When the appropriate treatment process is applied to bone cancer at an early stage, it is made curable depending on whether it is  benign or malignant.


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