Bone cancer is a type of cancer that attacks the bones. This condition can be experienced by children to adults. Bone cancer can affect any bone in the body, but it usually occurs in the legs, arms, and pelvis.
Bone Cancer, Symptoms, Causes and Treat
Bone cancer is a rare condition, accounting for only 1% of all cancer patients. While bone cancer in children only occupies about 3% of all cases of cancer in children. Tumors that form in the bone are more benign than malignant.
Symptoms of Bone Cancer
The following are the three main signs and symptoms of bone cancer, namely:
- Painful. Patients with bone cancer will feel pain in the area of the affected bone. Initially, the pain is only felt occasionally, but will become more frequent as the cancer grows. The pain gets worse with movement, and is usually worse at night.
- Swelling. Swelling and inflammation appear in the area around the cancerous bone. If the swelling occurs in the bone near the joint, the patient will find it difficult to move the joint.
- Brittle bones . Bone cancer causes bones to become brittle. When it gets worse, even minor injuries can lead to fractures.
Some other symptoms that can accompany the three main signs above are:
- Weight loss for no reason.
- Sweating at night.
- The body gets tired easily.
- A sensation of numbness or numbness, when the cancer occurs in the spine and presses on the nerves.
- Shortness of breath, when bone cancer spreads to the lungs.
Keep in mind, bone pain in adults is sometimes mistaken for arthritis. While in children and adolescents, it is sometimes considered a side effect of bone growth. Immediately consult a doctor if you or your child feel bone pain that comes and goes, gets worse at night, and doesn’t get better despite taking pain medication.
Causes and Risk Factors of Bone Cancer
The exact cause of bone cancer is not known. However, this condition is thought to be triggered by changes or mutations in genes controlling cell growth. These mutations make the cells grow uncontrollably, and form tumors in the bones.
Cancer that forms in the bones can spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatics.
There are a number of factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing bone cancer, namely:
Suffers from a genetic disorder called Li-Fraumeni syndrome.
Have had treatment with radiotherapy .
Ever suffered from eye cancer called retinoblastoma, as a child.
Ever suffered an umbilical hernia , when
Have Paget’s disease , a condition in which the bones become weak.
Type K anker T re
The following are types of bone cancer :
- Osteosarcoma . Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer, which develops in the bone cells of the arms, legs, and pelvis. Osteosarcoma is more common at the age of 10-30 years, and is more common in men than women.
- Chondrosarcoma . This type of bone cancer develops in the cartilage cells of the upper arms, shoulders, ribs, pelvis, and thighs. Chondrosarcoma is more common in women over the age of 40.
Ewing’s sarcoma. This type of bone cancer commonly develops in the pelvis, thighbone, and shinbone. Ewing’s sarcoma is more common at the age of 10-20 years. Only 10 percent of cases of Ewing’s sarcoma are experienced by adults aged 20 years and over.
- Chordoma . This type of bone cancer usually appears at the base of the skull or in the spine, and tends to grow slowly. Chordoma most often affects men aged 30 years and over.
Giant cell tumor of bone. Although most tumors of this type are benign, some can be malignant. This type of bone cancer generally attacks the bones of the arms and leg bones near the knee. These tumors rarely spread to other distant parts of the body, but often reappear even after removal.
Diagnosis of Bone Cancer
Doctors can suspect a patient has bone cancer, if there are a number of symptoms that have been described previously. However, to be sure, the doctor can perform further examinations, such as:
- X-ray photo . X-ray examination is done to determine bone damage caused by cancer, as well as the presence or absence of new bone growth. X-ray examinations can also show doctors whether the patient’s symptoms are caused by bone cancer or other conditions, such as fractures.
- C omputerised tomography (C T ) scan . A CT scan is an X-ray examination with the help of a computer to produce three-dimensional images of body parts. A CT scan is usually done to see if the cancer has spread to other organs.
- Magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI ) . An MRI is used to more clearly see the size of the cancer, and the extent of its spread within or around the bone.
- Nuclear inspection. If needed, the doctor will combine an X-ray examination with an injection of radioactive material into a vein. The radioactive material will be absorbed more quickly by the cancerous bone, and will help the doctor see the affected area more clearly.
- Biopsy. A biopsy is the removal of a sample of cancerous bone tissue for examination under a microscope. This is the most accurate method of diagnosing bone cancer. Besides being able to determine the type of bone cancer the patient has, a biopsy can also detect the stage and spread of cancer. A biopsy can be performed by keyhole surgery or by open surgery.
The above examination is also used to determine the stage or severity of cancer. There are four stages in the case of bone cancer, namely:
- Stage 1. At this stage, the cancer is still in one area of the bone.
- Stage 2. At this stage, the cancer cells have started to enlarge.
- Stage 3. At this stage, the cancer has spread to more than one area of the same bone.
- Stage 4. At this stage, the cancer has spread to other organs in the body, such as the lungs, liver, or brain.
Treatment of Bone Cancer
Treatment options for bone cancer depend on the severity, location, and type of cancer. Treatment of bone cancer can be done with surgery, chemotherapy , or radiotherapy.
- The surgery aims to remove the part of the bone affected by the cancer, and the surrounding tissue if needed. Some types of surgery that can be done to treat bone cancer are:
- Bone removal surgery. Bone removal surgery is performed when the cancer has not spread beyond the bone, and the bone can still be reshaped. In this procedure, the part of the bone that is affected by cancer is removed, and then replaced with an artificial bone made of metal (a prosthesis). As for the muscles, blood vessels and nerves around the bones will be left. If the cancerous bone is located near a joint such as in the knee, the orthopedist may also remove the joint and replace it with an artificial joint.
Amputation . Amputation is the removal of part or all of the cancer-affected limb, then replace it with an artificial limb. This procedure is done when the cancer has spread to other areas around the bone. In an amputation, the doctor will remove all parts of the bone, muscle, blood vessels, and nerves around the bone that have been affected by cancer.
After successful surgery, the patient is advised to undergo physiotherapy , in order to restore organ function in the operated part.
Chemotherapy is the administration of anticancer drugs by injection into a vein. Chemotherapy can be done in several ways, namely:
Combined with radiation therapy before the patient undergoes surgery. This method known as chemoradiation is effective in treating Ewing’s sarcoma.
Given before surgery to shrink the size of the cancer, so it can be removed without having to undergo amputation.
Given after surgery to prevent cancer cells from growing back.
Given to relieve symptoms (palliative chemotherapy) in patients who cannot be treated by any means.
The implementation of chemotherapy is divided into several cycles, each cycle lasting for several days. There is a gap of several weeks between one cycle and the next, so that the patient can recover from the effects of chemotherapy. The number of cycles of chemotherapy needed will be different for each patient, depending on the type and severity of the cancer.
Radiotherapy or radiation therapy is done by emitting a high beam of radiation, such as an X-ray. This procedure is usually done before surgery to shrink cancer cells, so the cancer is easier to remove. Radiotherapy is generally done 5 times a week, each session lasting a few minutes.
Just like chemotherapy, radiotherapy can also be done to relieve symptoms and slow the progression of cancer in patients with bone cancer that cannot be treated by any other means.