Bone cancer (Sarcoma): Facts & Treatment
An Informative Piece on Bone Cancer (Sarcoma) for Sarcoma Awareness.
Bone cancer, also known as sarcoma, is a rare form of cancer in adults, accounting for approximately 2% of all cancers. However, it comprises 20% of all solid cancers in children.
Bone cancers are characterized by their aggressive nature, often leading to limb destruction and metastasis to other organs. Early identification of these cancers is crucial to prevent the loss of limbs and lives.
Causes of bone cancers are not yet fully understood. Factors such as socioeconomic environment, poor dietary habits, genetic factors, and exposure to radiation have been proposed but not conclusively proven.
What is known is that bone cancers commonly affect adolescents and young adults, with a higher predilection for limbs compared to the spine, pelvis, and other flat bones in the body.
How can one recognize the presence of bone cancer?
Maintaining a high level of suspicion is essential when an individual exhibits the following symptoms or signs:
– Bone pain that worsens at night or during rest.
– Swelling (lump) larger than the size of a lemon that is growing rapidly.
– Fractures occurring from minor falls or injuries.
– Paralysis, weakness, decreased appetite, or weight loss (in advanced cases).
If any of these signs are observed, it is important not to panic but to seek evaluation from the nearest doctor.
What are the different types of bone cancer?
The most common types of bone cancer include osteosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, and chondrosarcoma, each with distinct characteristics and progression patterns.
Identifying the specific type is crucial in order to provide appropriate treatment at the earliest stage.
What tests are used to diagnose bone cancer?
Diagnosing bone cancer typically involves the following tests:
– X-ray (Plain Radiograph)
– Relevant blood tests
– MRI and/or CT scan
– Biopsy (Minimally Invasive Tissue Sampling)
– Staging by Whole Body Scan (Bone scan or PET CT)
What are the available treatments for bone cancer?
Once a diagnosis of bone cancer is confirmed, the treatment process is initiated and guided by a multidisciplinary team.
Treatment options for individuals with bone cancer vary depending on the type of cancer/sarcoma and the extent of the disease.
Osteosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma often require a combination of chemotherapy, surgery, and/or radiotherapy according to established protocols. Chondrosarcoma is typically treated with surgery alone. Secondary sarcomas often require combination treatments.
Is amputation the only surgical option for bone cancer?
No, amputation is not the sole treatment option available nowadays.
Advancements in chemotherapy and surgical techniques have made limb-saving surgery possible for over 90% of bone cancer cases. Better outcomes are achieved when the cancer is detected in the early stages.
What is limb-saving surgery?
Limb-saving surgery aims to completely remove the tumor while preserving and maximizing the mobility and functionality of the affected limb.
Thanks to the customization of limb-saving surgery plans based on factors such as age, bone maturity, type of bone involved, and the individual’s functional requirements, patients can not only save their limb but also regain its functionality.
Various types of limb-saving surgeries include:
– Tumor Megaprosthesis
– Custom Made Prosthesis Composite Reconstruction
– Biological Reconstruction (utilizing recycled tumor graft or bone bank allograft)
– Pediatric (Growing Tumor Prosthesis)
– Surgeries for Pelvic, Sacrum, and Spinal Tumors