Bone Cancer

What is bone cancer?

Most cancers that affect bones are actually metastatic cancers that have spread to the skeletal system instead of originating there. These cancers will need to be treated based on their starting point and will not be treated as bone cancer.

There are several cancers that affect the skeletal system but are not considered bone cancers. These include leukemia, multiple myeloma, and lymphoma.

True bone cancers are sarcomas. Sarcomas can develop anywhere in the body in both soft tissue and bones. Osteosarcomas originate in the bone cells and are the most common bone cancers; they occur mostly in people in ages 10 to 30 years old. Chondrosarcomas are the cancer of the cartilage cells, they are rare in people under the age of 20 and are the second most common form of bone cancer.

Other types of bone cancers include:

  • Ewing tumors
  • Malignant fibrous histiocytoma
  • Fibrosarcoma
  • Giant cell tumor of bone
  • Chordoma

What are the signs and symptoms of bone cancer?

Bone pain is the most common sign of bone cancer and as the tumor grows the pain can become more persistent. Swelling, fractures and decreased mobility are also symptoms of bone cancer.

What are the causes and risk factors of bone cancer?

Some genetic and environmental factors can have an effect on a person developing bone cancer. Some genetic disorders are considered risk factors for bone cancer, including:

  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome
  • Rothmund-Thomson syndrome
  • Retinoblastoma
  • Paget disease

Another risk factor that is non-related to genetic disorders is exposure to radiation.

How is bone cancer diagnosed and treated?

To diagnose bone cancer your physician will use a variety of tests including biopsies, imaging tests and blood tests. If possible, it is best to have a biopsy to diagnose bone cancer at the same place you expect to receive treatment. It is essential to go to a specialized cancer center that has experience in osteosarcoma biopsy. If the biopsy is done incorrectly, it may make it more difficult later for the surgeon to remove all of the cancer without having to also remove all or part of the arm or leg with the tumor. A biopsy that is not done correctly may cause the cancer to spread.A patient's symptoms and family history will also be taken into consideration when forming a diagnosis. The treatment of bone cancer will depend on the type and stage of the bone cancer as well as your lifestyle and treatment preferences. Bone cancer treatment plans may include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Baptist Sarcoma Center

BCC's Sarcoma Center treats more adult osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, patients than any other cancer center in the region. In fact, we are one of the few teams in the nation devoted to bone cancer. Our experience and expertise help us produce outstanding outcomes.

We bring together a team of experts that includes specialists from many areas to give you personal, customized care. They focus their full attention on you, communicating and collaborating with each other and you to ensure carefully coordinated care. We use specialized therapies and technologies to be sure you receive the most advanced treatment with the least impact on your body.

As the region's leading cancer center, we constantly work to discover new treatments and innovations. We offer:

  • Embolization for localized unresectable giant cell tumor of bone
  • Activity of interferon in metastatic giant cell tumor of bone
  • Limb-sparing surgery to help save arms and legs
  • Targeting a cell receptor known to play a part in the spread of cancer to the bones may enable chemotherapy drugs to be delivered directly to the cells