Bone cancer refers to tumorous growth that originates in any bone present in the body but generally occurs in the pelvic area or the lengthy limbs in the arms and legs.

Bones are sturdy stiff tissues that form a part of the skeletal system, providing structure and mobility to the body. They are composed of collagen fibers along with the bone minerals, namely hydroxyapatite, calcium and phosphate salts. Although very minor bone cancers may require only minimal treatment, acute cases cause severe pain in the joints and require advanced medical procedures.

Bone cancer

The current incidence of primary bone cancer in the world is quite rare compared with other cancers such as breast or prostate cancer, with only a few million people being affected globally. It tends to develop more commonly in men than women, usually above the age of 40, but certain types affect children under the age of 10 as well. Also Read: Breast Cancer: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

The main cause of bone cancer is still unknown, but several scientific studies indicate that genetic abnormalities or prolonged exposure to harmful radiations contribute to triggering bone cancer in most people.

The three main types of bone cancer include:

1.    Osteosarcoma:

In this type of bone cancer which occurs most commonly in bones of the arms and legs, in children and adolescents, the cancerous cells proliferate uncontrollably to produce more bone tissue, leading to lumps i.e. tumours.

2.    Chondrosarcoma:

Here, the cells in the bone undergo transformation to multiply nonstop, synthesizing additional cartilage and giving rise to prominent inflammations and bulges. It is the second most widely occurring type of bone cancer, developing in adults over the age of 40 and develops in the bones of the pelvis, arms and legs.

3.    Ewing Sarcoma:

This is a very rare kind of bone cancer affecting children and young adults, with swelling and pain in the regions of chest, limbs and pelvis, where it mainly originates.

Symptoms:

  • Pain in bones and joints as in the case of arthritis
  • Weakness and soreness in affected bones
  • Injuries and fractures in frail bones
  • Exhaustion
  • Sudden reduction in body weight

Diagnosis And Treatment:

Since bones are entirely internal organs and it is difficult to analyze the nature of the bulging growth by mere external physical examination, the doctor will use imaging techniques to assess the condition of bones in the patient, such as:

  • CT scan (Computerised tomography)
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
  • X-ray
  • PET (Positron Emission Tomography)
  • Scanning the affected bones to determine if cancer has spread to other organs in the body such as the lungs. Also Read: Lung Cancer: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Furthermore, biopsies i.e. tissue extractions of abnormal bone growth are also taken to verify the type of bone cancer and which stage the tumor is currently in. Cancer staging involves five distinct stages – 0, I, II, III and IV, with 0 being the least disruptive and IV being the most malignant and aggressive.

Once the diagnosis of bone cancer is confirmed, appropriate treatment measures are given to the patient by the healthcare provider:

1.    Surgery

The medical professional will create an incision in the skin and remove either the entire affected bone or a part of it, along with some of the surrounding healthy tissue, so as to prevent the recurrence of bone cancer.

2.    Radiation Therapy

This procedure utilizes high energy particles such as X-rays or protons, focused on the targeted cancerous bone tissue to diminish tumor growth in that region.

3.    Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy refers to the administration of prescription anticancer drugs by the doctor, via intravenous means (through a vein), to eliminate the aberrant cancer cells in the affected bones.

Also, lifestyle modifications such as eating a wholesome diet, engaging in simple outdoor activities and spending time with near and dear ones can help cope with the pain and other distressing symptoms of bone cancer, to ensure a complete recovery.

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