Bone cancer is a general term that includes all malignant tumors that occur in or on the bone. This includes primary bone sarcomas, which are among of the rarest forms of cancer. Bone cancer can also be used to describe tumors in the bone as a result of multiple myeloma, lymphoma, or metastatic carcinoma (a cancer in another body part that has spread to the bone).
Bone sarcomas most commonly occur in the long bones, such as in the arms or legs. A strong skeletal structure is essential for the health and stability of the human body. Bone cancers can cause this fragile skeletal structure to weaken dramatically, and in severe cases may result in fracture. It is estimated that each year approximately 2,800 new primary bone sarcoma cases will be diagnosed in the United States. Many of these malignancies can be highly aggressive, and potentially lethal.
According to the American Cancer Society, sarcomas that form in the bone that originate in the bone accounts for only 0.02% of all cancer cases. There are multiple forms of bone sarcomas. Some are primarily found in children and adolescents, while others are found mostly in older adults. The treatment for a bone sarcoma requires surgical removal of the tumor, and often necessitates chemotherapy for survival.
Anatomy of a Bone
The 206 bones in the adult human body are there to shape the body and provide stability. Each bone consists of the following:
Muscles attach themselves to the bones to help provide strength and stability as a person moves. Bones are also used to protect the vital organs in the human body. Inside each bone is marrow, which helps the body produce new blood cells that are vital to good health and survival. Because of the intricacy within each bone, there are many diseases that can affect their strength.
Types of Bone Cancers
There are a variety of bone cancers that affect both children and adults:
Causes of Bone Cancer
There is little information to determine what causes bone cancers. From what has been studied, scientists can see that it usually involves genetic alterations of some type. Usually this happens when the cells that should die off continue living and dividing. While the cause is still unclear, there are certain risk factors that have been identified.
Symptoms of Bone Cancer
The most common symptom of bone cancer is pain in the affected area. This can also lead to swelling and tenderness in the area of the pain. In some cases, one may fracture the bone because of its increased fragility. However, not all pain and broken bones are signs of cancer.
The following are some of the most common bone cancer symptoms that you should be aware of. Every person’s body is different and will have various reactions to this disease.
Each of these can also be symptoms for other diseases or traumas. Therefore, it is important to speak to your doctor before drawing any conclusions.
The multidisciplinary team of orthopaedic experts at North Shore-LIJ Orthopaedic Institute's musculoskeletal oncology services in New York treats Bone Cancers as well as many other conditions that affect the bones within the body.