Bones form the core structure of our body and play an important role in not only providing support to it but also protecting our organs. However, like most other body parts, the bones also suffer from various ailments, including cancer. Even though bone cancer is a relatively rare form of the disease, people suffering from it undergo a similar level of pain and discomfort, if not more, as the victims of other types of cancers.
Understanding Bone Cancer And Its Causes
Bone cancer is defined as a condition where a tumour or abnormal mass of tissue is formed within the bone. The tumour may or may not be malignant, although, non-malignant tumours are more common. Like most other types of cancer, there are no known specific causes of this disease. However, a number of hereditary and environmental factors as listed below have been identified as the primary cause of this cancer.
- Children or young adults in general run a higher risk of developing bone cancer.
- Individuals, who have received radiation therapy for any reason, are likely to develop disease.
- People with a history of Paget’s disease, hereditary retinoblastoma and Li-Fraumeni syndrome, also run a high risk of bone cancer.
- Individuals with a close family history of bone cancer
Symptoms Of Bone Cancer
The primary indication of bone cancer is a subtle pain, which is deep, nagging and has a permanent character in the affected areas which worsens as the cancer progresses. In addition, the patients might also experience other symptoms, which are listed as follows.
- Swelling in the affected area
- Weakening of the bones leading to an enhanced risk of fracture
- Unintentional and significant weight loss
- Development of a lump in the affected area
- Some patients might also experience fever, chills and night sweats
Types Of Bone Cancer
The bone cancer is generally classified into several different types and each type has specific treatment methods. Knowing about the exact type of bone cancer is essential to develop an optimal treatment plan. The most common types of this disease are discussed as follows.
- Osteosarcoma: This is the most common type of bone cancer that generally occurs in older children, teenagers and young adults. The ailment is also known to be more common amongst males and develops mostly at the end of long bones in active bone growth areas.
- Chondrosarcoma: It is the second most common type of bone cancer that develops from the cartilage cells that either cover the bone or are attached to it. It is more common in people above the age of 40 years and generally affects the bones of the hips and the pelvis.
- Ewing Sarcoma: This is an aggressive form of cancer that generally affects children between the ages of 4 and 15 years. The cancer generally arises from the primitive nerve tissue and develops either in the bones or in the soft tissue located in the middle portion of the long bones of arms and legs.
- Pleomorphic Sarcoma: This is more a cancer of the soft tissue than the bone. It mostly affects adults and can occur anywhere in the body.
- Chordoma: This rare form of bone cancer generally affects people above 30 years of age and is located on either the lower or upper end of the spinal column.
Treatment Of Bone Cancer
As mentioned before, the treatment of bone cancer depends primarily on its type and also on the stage to which the cancer has proceeded. The most common treatment option is surgery, which involves the removal of the tumour as well as some part of the bone. This is generally followed by sessions of radiotherapy and chemotherapy along with specific course of antibiotics for complete destruction of cancer cells.