What is bone cancer?



What is bone cancer?

Bone cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in the bone although not all bone tumors are malignant. Cancerous cells in bone grow, compress healthy bone tissue and may threat to life. It is necessary to differ bone cancer from metastatic cancer which spread to the bones from the other parts of the body .

Common types of bone cancer include:

  • Osteosarcoma: cancer begins in osteoid tissue of bone. Osteoid tissues have similar texture to bone, but lack of minerals. This type often occurs in the knee and upper arm.
  • Chondrosarcoma: cancer starts in cartilaginous tissue. Cartilage includes resilient and smooth elastic tissues that cover and protect the ends of long bones at joints. Chondrosarcoma occurs most often in the pelvis, upper leg, and shoulder.
  • The Ewing Sarcoma Family of Tumors (ESFTs): cancer that usually occurs in bone but may also arise in soft tissue (muscle, fat, fibrous tissue, blood vessels, or other supporting tissue). It occurs most commonly along the backbone, pelvis, in the legs and arms.

There are four stages of bone cancer, such as:

  • In stage I, bone cancer is limited to the bone without spreading to other areas of the body. Cancer cells in this stage is less aggressive and has not compressed normal cells.
  • In stage II, cancer cells are more aggressive than before, but is still limited to the bone.
  • In stage III, bone cancer occurs in two or more places on the same bone. Stage III tumors can be either low or high grade.
  • In stage IV, cancer has spread beyond the bone to other areas of body, such as other bones or internal organs. Cancer cells are very aggressive and affect the function of normal cells.

How common is bone cancer?

Bone cancer is rare. It only occupies less than 1 percent of all cancers. Different types of bone cancer are more likely to occur in certain populations:

  • Osteosarcoma is most common between ages of 10 and 19, but can occur in people over 40. Those who have other conditions, such as Paget disease (a benign condition with abnormal development of new bone cells), are at increased risk of developing this cancer.
  • Chondrosarcoma most commonly occurs in older who are over age of 40.
  • ESFTs often occur in children and adolescents under 19 years old. It is more common in boys than girls.


What are the symptoms of bone cancer?

Pain is the most common symptom of bone cancer, but not all bone cancers cause pain. The other symptoms may be:

  • Swelling and tenderness near the affected area
  • Broken bone
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes bone cancer?

Actually, the true causes of bone cancer have not been found. They only know that bone cancer is an error in a cell’s DNA that signals cell grow and divide uncontrollably. Normal cells in the body follow an orderly path of growth, division, and death, but blood cancerous cells do not. They do not die automatically.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for bone cancer?

There are many factors that increase your risk of bone cancer, such as:

  • Inherited genetic syndromes: certain rare genetic syndromes that passed through families will increase the risk of bone cancer, including Li-Fraumeni syndrome and hereditary retinoblastoma.
  • Paget’s disease of bone: this is a benign pre-cancerous condition. It interferes with your body’s normal recycling process, in which new bone tissue gradually replaces old bone tissue. Over time, the disease can cause affected bones to become fragile. Paget’s disease is more common in adults, especially at the age of 50.
  • Radiation exposure.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is bone cancer diagnosed?

At first, the doctor will ask your condition and family history. If it is suspected that you have bone cancer, the doctor will recommend some physical examination or may order laboratory and other diagnostic tests. Most common tests for bone cancer include:

  • X-rays: this test allow abnormalities in your bone to be showed on the image without any incision. Signs of bone cancer may be ragged bone, hole in the bone, tumor around the defect in the bone. If these signs appear, you may be required a biopsy to determine if you have bone cancer or not.
  • A bone scan: a small amount of radioactive material is injected into a blood vessel and travels through the bloodstream; then it is collected in the bones and detected by a scanner. The doctor can diagnose your condition by evaluating the scan.
  • A computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan: it combines a series of X-ray images taken from different angles. CT scan images provide more detailed information than plain X-rays do.
  • A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure: this test is similar to x-rays, but using a powerful magnet linked to a computer instead.
  • A positron emission tomography (PET) scan: a small amount of radioactive glucose is injected into a vein, and a scanner is used to make detailed, then computerized pictures of areas inside the body where the glucose is used will appear.

How is bone cancer treated?

Bone cancer can be treated in many ways, some of them can be combined to gain the best result. Treatment options depend on the properties of cancer, as well as the patient’s general health.

  • Surgery: the tumor is removed with special surgical techniques. It takes a long time for patient to recover after the surgery.
  • Chemotherapy: this treatment uses anticancer drugs that are able to kill cancer cells. The doctor often recommends a combination of anticancer drugs.
  • Radiation therapy also called radiotherapy, this technique uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells. This treatment may be used in combination with surgery. It may be very harmful to patient’s body after the treatment, which can result in some complications.
  • Cryosurgery: cancer cells are frozen with a liquid nitrogen, and die after a period time. This technique can sometimes be used instead of conventional surgery to destroy the tumor.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage bone cancer?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with bone cancer:

  • Get more information: learn about bone cancer can reduce your concerns and make you more confident to face it. There are sources from which you can get trustworthy information about bone cancer: consultation to doctor, the internet, newspapers, and other social media; or you can ask doctor about supporting in your local area.
  • Be optimistic: psychology can significantly affect the result of treatment. You can keep your optimistic emotion by many ways: talking to someone reliable, keeping close to your family and friends, playing with pets or just reading a book, anything that make you feel comfortable. You need to trust that your condition will be better, and you can still enjoy your life when living with cancer.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

msBahasa Malaysia

Review Date: December 1, 2016 | Last Modified: February 3, 2017

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