Childhood Bone Cancer

What are childhood bone and soft tissue cancers?

The skeletal system is comprised of bones and soft tissues, including tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Bone and soft tissue cancers are solid tumors that develop in a bone or in soft tissue or have metastasized(spread) to those parts of the body.

What are the different types of childhood bone and soft tissue cancers?

Osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer in children. Osteosarcomas are most commonly diagnosed in teenagers when bones are growing rapidly.

Osteosarcomas form in the marrow cavity inside long bones, such as the bones found in arms and legs, or on the surface of bones. Subtypes of osteosarcomas include parosteal osteosarcomas and periosteal osteosarcomas.

Osteosarcomas can metastasize to other areas of the body, including other bones, the lungs, kidneys, brain, and heart.

Chrondosarcoma

Cartilage covers the ends of bones to form joints. Chrondosarcoma is cancer of that cartilage and may occur inside or outside of the bone. Chrondosarcoma is most commonly found in bones in the arms, legs, shoulders, ribs, pelvis, head, or neck.

Ewing Sarcoma

Ewing sarcomas are one of four types of tumors belonging to the Ewing’s family of tumors. Ewing sarcomas are most commonly diagnosed in teenagers; however they can occur in younger children. Ewing sarcomas typically occur in the limbs.

Ewing sarcomas are rare, but they are considered malignant, meaning that they tend to worsen and metastasize to other areas of the body, quickly.

Soft Tissue Sarcomas

Soft tissue sarcomas are tumors that form in the soft tissues of the body, including fibrous tissue, tendons, cartilage, and fat. Soft tissue sarcomas can occur anywhere in the body. Studies have suggested that soft tissue sarcomas may be linked to other types of cancer.

What are the symptoms of childhood bone and soft tissue cancers?

The signs and symptoms of bone and soft tissue cancers can vary significantly among children. The most common symptoms associated with bone cancer include:

  • Ongoing pain (may or may not increase with activity)
  • Swelling/redness
  • Stiffness
  • Limping
  • Decreased movement/range of motion of limb

The most common symptoms associated with soft tissue tumors include:

  • Swelling or lump that does not hurt
  • Pain or soreness
  • Limping
  • Difficulty moving limbs

The signs and symptoms associated with bone and soft tissue cancers are also signs of many other common conditions. If you have concerns about your child, set up a consultation with your pediatrician or family physician.

What are the causes and risk factors of childhood bone and soft tissue cancers?

Most childhood bone and soft tissue cancers are related to genetics and are not affected by lifestyle or environmental risks; however, like most other types of cancer, an exact cause for bone and soft tissue cancers is unknown.

How are childhood bone and soft tissue cancers treated?

Treatment for bone and soft tissue cancers are customized for each patient based on a number of factors, including the age and health of the patient, the type and stage of the tumor, and the risks associated with different types of treatment.

Most patients and their families will work with their physicians to come up with a treatment plan that includes surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, rehabilitation, or a combination of treatment options.