Treatment Options for Bone Tumors

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patient and doctor

A lump of tissue or a mass is formed when cells divide uncontrollably and abnormally. This mass or lump is often referred to as a tumor.

A bone tumor is a lump that forms in the bones.

Healthy tissues are displaced by abnormal tissues as the tumor grows.

Some tumors are not cancerous or benign.

However, while not fatal and unlikely to spread to other body parts, a benign bone tumor may still require treatment. When benign bone tumors grow, it might end up compressing healthy bone tissues.

patient and doctor

Benign Tumors

Some of the most prevalent benign tumors include:

Giant cell tumor – this benign tumor often affects the leg. Malignant types of giant cell tumor are considered rare.

Osteoid osteoma – this bone tumor often develops in the long bones. It is also common in individuals who are in their early 20s.

Non-ossifying fibroma – a single bone tumor common among children and often develops in the long bones. In most cases, no symptoms manifest in this type of tumor.

Osteochondroma – common among people under 20 years of age, this type affects the bones and the cartilage.

Osteoblastoma – common in young adults, this type of tumor affects the long bones and the spine.

Metastatic Cancer

In some cases, cancer of the bones originates in another part of the body. This is known as metastatic cancer.

Cancers that typically spread to the bones include:

  • Lung cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Breast cancer

Primary Bone Cancer

Cancer that first developed in the bone is called primary bone cancer. It is considered less common compared to metastatic cancer.

While no certain causes of bone cancer have been identified, heredity is believed to play a role. In addition, high doses of anticancer drugs or radiotherapy have also been known to increase the risk for bone cancers.

Some of the most common types of bone cancer include:

  • Chondrosarcoma – this type often develops in individuals between 40 and 50 years of age. Often originating in the cartilage cells, the common sites of this cancer includes the pelvis, legs, shoulder, ribs, and upper arms.
  • Spindle cell sarcoma – often affects adults over 40 years of age, this type is similar to osteosarcoma.
  • Ewing’s sarcoma – common among people between the ages of 10 and 20 years old, this type also often develops in the pelvis, leg, ribs, and upper arm. While often develops in the bone, it can also originate in the soft tissues around the bones.
  • Chordoma – often occurs in people over 40 years old, chordoma is a tumor of the bones of the spine and the skull. This type has the tendency to grow gradually and is likely to spread to other parts of the body.
  • Osteosarcoma – this type begins in the bone cells and often develops in the shin, thigh, and other larger bones. In most cases, it is prevalent in teenagers and young adults.

Treatment options for Bone Tumors

Benign tumors

While often just monitored or treated with medication, your doctor may recommend removing the tumor when it has the tendency to become cancerous.

Malignant tumors

Treatment approach for this type will depend on how far the cancer has spread. Cancer cells that are confined to the bone and its surrounding area are at the localized stage. However, when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, it is at the metastatic stage. The latter is more serious and more difficult to treat.

Treatment options for bone cancer include:

Amputation – may be recommended if the tumor extends to the blood vessels and nerves. A prosthetic limb will be used to aid function after the procedure.

Limb salvage surgery – this entails removing only the part affected with cancer. Nearby tendons, muscles, and tissues are not removed. Prosthesis (metallic implant) will be used to replace the part of the bone removed.

Radiotherapy – often combined with surgery, radiotherapy works by shrinking the tumor and killing the cancer cells.

Cryosurgery – cancer cells are freezed and killed using liquid nitrogen. In some instance, cryosurgery is performed instead of conventional surgery.

Systemic chemotherapy – this treatment option makes use of anti-cancer drugs to kill cancer cells that have spread to the bloodstream.