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Facts about Bone Cancer :Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

Bone cancer is caused when cells start dividing constantly and begin to grow out of control in the bones. It is basically a tumour that destroys normal bone tissue. Cells in the bones can become cancerous and spread to any other part of the body. Know the basic Facts about Bone Cancer to understand it better. They are broadly classified into two types of cancer.  

Benign (non-cancerous): The benign bone tumour is more common and it compresses the healthy bone tissue in the affected area. The benign tumours are said to be less harmful as compared to the malignant tumours because they don’t spread to other parts of the body.

Facts about Bone Cancer

Malignant (cancerous): Malignant tumour that spreads to the bone tissues is called primary bone cancer. The case when cancer spreads from other organs like lungs, breast or prostate to the bones is called metastatic cancer. Metastatic cancer is relatively common in comparison to primary bone cancer and harmful, in most cases fatal.

The exact cause of bone cancer has not been defined but researchers/doctors have identified many factors that could increase the chances of getting cancer. One of the most important facts about Bone Cancer is that it is difficult to determine if an individual has cancer unless they go for an extensive comprehensive exam involving physical tests, biopsy and blood tests along with a varied number of tests. Most common symptoms that could indicate bone cancer are:

  • Pain in the affected area: Patients complain of pain in the affected area and mention that when the affected bone (like the hand or leg) is used, the pain gets worse. The pain increases as cancer grows and becomes constant.
  • Fractures: As the cancer affects the cells, it weakens the bones and makes an individual prone to fractures. Most of the time the bones don’t fracture but patients complain of severe pain in the affected region for months together.
  • Swelling: Many people feel a mass or a lump depending upon the affected part of the body. Swelling can occur in areas affected by pain after a couple of weeks.

Persistent bone pain that gets worse over time and continues into the night should always be considered as bone cancer unless ruled out. Please consult your orthopedician for the above symptoms. Many a times bone cancer can also be non painful.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD

Other symptoms include tingling in fingers, numbness, weight loss, fatigue, etc. Sometimes people with bone cancer are not affected by these symptoms at all and hence, it is very crucial to consult a doctor first and get a proper diagnosis. It is also possible that these symptoms could be an indication of other conditions. Treatment of cancer depends upon the individual age & health along with the location, type, size and stage of cancer.

Some of the treatment methodologies in brief are:

  • Surgery: The tumoru-affected area of the bone along with some portion of healthy tissue is surgically removed to get rid of the cancer. This is done to ensure that the cancer doesn’t relapse and affect the tissues again.
  • Radiotherapy: which is also called radiation therapy is used to kill cancer cells with the help of high-energy x-ray beams. Radiotherapy can be used in a combination with surgery depending upon the cancer type and a patient’s willingness to undergo the surgery.
  • Chemotherapy: also known as chemo; destroys the cancer cells through the use of a combination of anticancer drugs. Chemo while it slows the growth of cells, it adversely harms the healthy tissues in the body.
  • Cryosurgery: instead of using the method of conventional surgery, cryosurgery uses a liquid form of nitrogen to kill and freeze the cancer cells.

Bone cancer can begin in any bone in the body, but it most commonly affects the pelvis or the long bones in the arms and legs. Like most cancers, the risk of bone cancer increases with age. But for some types of bone cancer, younger people have a higher risk e.g. osteosarcoma.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj – M.B.B.S, M.D.

Researchers and doctors have been trying to solve the mystery of cancer since decades and there is no one single cure for it. The best doctors in the world also cannot determine the exact reason why it affects a young child or an old person and why it does not affect everyone. Though there are defined rules to avoid, understanding the facts about Bone Cancer can help you take necessary precautions to stay healthy and be prepared.  

Disclaimer:  The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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