Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer. It usually develops in teenagers when they are actively growing. It usually begins in the bone and found in long bones such as leg bone and arm bone near the shoulder. Less often the tumor may grow in pelvis or jaw. This type of cancer is rare. It is the most common type of bone cancer in children and young adults. It can spread to other parts of the body usually the lungs. The cause of osteosarcoma is unknown even though genetics may play a role. Treatment usually involves chemotherapy and surgery. If cancer has not spread to other parts of the body, long-term survival rate is achieved.
The cause of osteosarcoma is unknown even though it run in families. A gene associated with familial retinoblastoma ( cancer of the eye in children) is associated with this type of bone cancer.Doctors however believe that osteosarcoma is caused by a DNA error which makes cells divide uncontrollably. These cells live instead of dying at a set time. Accumulation of these mutated cells causes the cancerous tumor.
Stage I : Cancer is limited to bone and has not spread to other areas
Stage II : A biopsy reveals cancer is aggressive but has not yet spread to other places.
Stage III : Cancer is found in two or more places of the same bone.
Stage IV : The cancer has spread beyond the bone to other places such as lungs.
Boys and girls are equally at risk of osteosarcoma until late teen age when boys are at higher risk than girls.
Having a family history of this type of cancer and other syndromes like hereditary retinoblasmas puts you at high risk of getting this type of cancer.
Signs and symptoms of osteosarcoma include the following :
- tenderness, swelling ad inflammation at site of tumor
- broken bone
- limitation in bone movement
- bone pain
- unexplained weight loss
TEST AND DIAGNOSIS
Imaging test :The doctor will recommend one or more of these imaging test to evaluate your symptoms. These include
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Positron emission tomography (PET)
- Computerized tomography (CT)
- bone scan – to see if cancer has spread to other bones
Biopsy : To perform a surgery biospy, an incision is made through the skin to remove the whole or part of the tumor and sent to the lab for analysis.
Treatment option depends on the stage of cancer, your overall health and preference. It usually involves surgery, chemotherapy , radiation or a combination of treatments. Treatment usually starts after a surgery biopsy to remove the tumor.
Chemotherapy : This is usually done to shrink the tumor before surgery or to kill any cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body. It is usually given through a vein and the medication travels throughout the body.
Radiation : It uses high-powered beams to kill the cancer cells. It may be done after surgery to remove any cancerous cells that may be left behind.
Surgery : Surgery is done after chemotherapy to remove any remaining tumor that is left behind. Surgery usually saves the limb from amputation but in some rare cases amputation may be necessary.
Osteosarcoma can present some unpleasant complications such as
- limb removal
- spread of cancer to other parts of the body
There is no known way to prevent this type of bone cancer.