Bone Cancer: What is it, Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
Many areas in the human body are suitable for tumor formation. One of these is the bones that cover most of the body. Tumors may occur due to uncontrolled cell divisions occurring in bones. If these tumors are malignant, they are called bone cancer. The most common symptom of bone cancer is pain caused by the spread of the tumor or the fracture of bone weakened by a tumor. Additionally, bone stiffness and tenderness may be felt. Sometimes there are other symptoms, such as fatigue, fever, swelling, and stumbling, but they can also be caused by other conditions. Bone cancer diagnosis is made through examinations performed by a doctor.
What is Bone Cancer?
Bone cancer is a type of cancer that refers to cancers seen in bones. When cancer cells develop in a bone, they can damage normal bone tissue. Bone cancer occurs when a tumor or mass of atypical tissue forms in a bone. A malignant tumor is often called cancerous. When these cancers form in the bone itself, they are called primary bone cancers, but many tumors that start in other organs or other parts of the body can spread to bones as well as other body parts. Bone cancers that occur in this case are secondary bone cancers. Breast, prostate and lung tumors are the most common tumors that spread to bone. But the term bone cancer is often used to refer to primary bone cancer. Symptoms of bone cancer depend on factors such as a person’s age, the type of bone cancer they have, how far the cancer has spread, and how likely it is to spread further. In general, bone cancer is much easier to treat in healthy people whose cancer has not spread.
What Causes Bone Cancer?
The cause of bone cancer is not known exactly, but there are some factors that may cause the development of bone cancer. Exposure to radiation or drugs is one of the most important factors, especially during the treatment of cancers occurring in other regions. In some cases, bone cancers may occur due to genetic conditions that run in the family. Other factors that can cause bone cancer include:
- radiation therapy
- Paget’s disease
- Presence of other cancers
- Growth and development
What are the symptoms of bone cancer?
Bone cancer can affect any bone in the body, but most often develops in long bones such as the legs or upper arms. Most people with bone cancer have no symptoms other than feeling a painless lump. The most common bone cancer symptom is pain in the lump, but sometimes these tumors can develop without pain. Many people describe this pain as a throbbing or stabbing pain in the bone. Some people report feeling a lump that may be hard or soft when touched in this area. The most common symptoms of bone cancer are:
- Swelling in bone areas
- Tenderness in the affected area
- Fractures due to bone weakness
- weight loss
Types of Bone Cancer
There are different types of bone cancer that can start in bone cells. Types of bone cancer include:
- Osteosarcoma: Osteosarcoma, which can affect people of all ages, is a type of bone cancer that is especially common during adolescence. Osteosarcomas can develop anywhere in the skeleton. However, it often occurs in the thigh bone (femur), upper shin bone (tibia) and upper arm bone (humerus). Osteosarcoma most often occurs at the ends of bones where new tissue grows as children grow, especially in the knees.
- Chondrosarcoma: Cartilage is a shiny, smooth substance that normally covers the ends of bones in joints, but it can also be found within the bones. Chondrosarcoma can grow inside a bone or in the cartilage tissues on the bone surface. Cancers that occur in the cartilage cells within the bone are called chondrosarcoma. It is cancer. Chondrosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that often occurs in adults between the ages of 30 and 60.
- Ewing Sarcoma: Ewing sarcoma is most common in children and adolescents up to 14 years of age. It is usually seen in areas such as the pelvis (hips), thighbones (femur), shoulder bones, and ribs. An Ewing tumor can occur not only in hard tissues but also in soft tissues of the body.
- Spindle Cell Sarcoma: Spindle cell sarcomas are most often found in adults between the ages of 30 and 60. The most common places are the leg bones. These rare bone cancers are very similar to osteosarcomas, but they do not produce the bony substance called osteoid as osteosarcomas do.
What is Bone Marrow Cancer?
Bone marrow cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the bone marrow, the spongy tissue found inside bones. Bone marrow cancer can occur anywhere in the body. The most common types are multiple myeloma and leukemia. These cancers are also known as blood cancer types because they are responsible for making blood cells. Cancers that start in the bone itself are bone cancer and are much less common than bone marrow cancer. Bone marrow cancer often causes bone pain, bone weakness, or fractures. Other symptoms of bone marrow cancer may vary depending on the type of cancer.
How is Bone Cancer Treated?
Bone cancer treatment may vary depending on the type of primary bone cancer, the location and size of the tumor, whether the cancer has spread, the person’s age, general health, and preferences. Treatment for primary bone cancer usually occurs as a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
- Surgical treatment: Depending on the location of the cancer, different surgical options may be applied. When necessary, there are procedures in which only the tumor tissue is removed while the entire bone is removed. The removed bone is replaced with a metal implant or bone graft. Limb removal surgery is preferred in some cases when it is not possible to remove all the cancer without affecting the arm or leg too much.
- Medication: The drug therapy treatment plan includes medications that destroy cancer cells. When a drug is given in this way, it is called systemic therapy. The medicine can also be used topically, where the medicine is applied directly to the cancer or kept in a single part of the body.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves medications that stop or slow the growth of cancer cells, causing as little damage as possible to healthy cells. Chemotherapy may be given for advanced osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma. It may be administered before surgery to reduce the size of the tumor and make it easier to remove after surgery, or along with radiation therapy to kill any remaining cancer cells.
- Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses controlled doses of radiation, such as focused x-rays, to kill or damage cancer cells. It is administered before surgery to reduce the size of the tumor and make it easier to remove after surgery or chemotherapy, to kill any remaining cancer cells, or to help control cancer when surgically removing the tumor is not possible.
- Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapy is a treatment option that targets specific genes, proteins, or tissue environment of cancer that contribute to its growth and spread. It helps determine a treatment option specific to the cancer. The most common side effects are fatigue, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, increased liver enzymes, cough, constipation and diarrhea.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy uses the body’s natural defense mechanism to fight cancer by improving the immune system’s ability to attack cancer cells. There are many recently approved immunotherapy treatments for other types of cancer. Current immunotherapy methods also activate immune responses against normal body parts, a process called autoimmunity. Common side effects may include skin reactions, flu-like symptoms, diarrhea, and weight changes.