Bone Cancer

Bone cancer can occur when another cancer spreads to the bone (metastasis) or can originate in the bone itself (primary bone cancer). The three most common types are osteosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, and chondrosarcoma. The most common symptom is pain. There are several different treatment plans a doctor may recommend based on the stage of bone cancer. These may include radiation therapy or limb salvage surgery. Follow the links below to find WebMD’s comprehensive coverage about how bone cancer is contracted, what it looks like, how to treat it, and much more.

Primary bone sarcoma is a tumor that forms first in bone. It is less common than metastatic cancer. The cause of bone sarcoma is not certain, but heredity may play a role. High-dose radiation therapy or cancer drugs may increase the risk of this type of cancer. These are some of the most common types of bone cancer:

  • Osteosarcoma begins in bone cells and is most common around the knee and upper arm. Most of the time, it is found in teens and young adults. There is an adult form of this tumor that is usually seen in persons with pre-existing Paget’s disease of bone.
  • Ewing’s sarcoma also is seen in younger people between the ages of 5 and 20. The ribs, pelvis, leg, and upper arm are the most common sites. It usually shows up in bone, but it can also start in soft tissue around bones.
  • Chondrosarcoma occurs most often in people between 40 and 70. The hip, pelvis, leg, arm, and shoulder are common sites of this cancer, which begins in cartilage cells.

Although almost always found in bone, multiple myeloma is not a primary bone cancer. It is a bone marrow cancer. Bone marrow is the soft tissue inside bones.

Symptoms of bone cancer tend to develop slowly. They depend on the type, location, and size of the tumor.

Pain is the most frequent symptom of bone cancer. Sometimes a firm, slightly tender lump on the bone can be felt through the skin. In some cases, bone cancer interferes with normal movements. Bone cancer can also cause bones to break.

These symptoms are not sure signs of cancer. They may also be caused by other, less serious problems. Individuals who are experiencing symptoms should consult a doctor.

Bone tumors develop when cells in the bone divide without control, forming a mass of tissue. Most bone tumors are benign, which means they are not cancer and cannot spread. However, they may still weaken bone and lead to fractures or cause other problems. Bone cancer destroys normal bone tissue and may spread to other parts of the body (called metastasis).

Primary bone cancer is cancer that originates in bone cells. The other way cancer can occur in bones is after spreading there from another part of the body through a process called metastasis. When it does, it’s called secondary bone cancer. Secondary bone cancer is the same type of cancer that exists in the tissue or organ where it first occurred. For instance, breast cancer that spreads to the bones is still made up of breast cancer cells.

Researchers think that Ewing’s sarcoma begins in a certain kind of primitive cell. And although the tumors typically start forming in bone, they can also start in the same kind of cells outside of bone. When this occurs, it’s called an extraosseous Ewing’s sarcoma.

Ewing tumors that grow in bone are typically found in the long bones of the legs and arms, or bones in the chest, trunk, pelvis, back, or head. In addition to the classic Ewing tumor, which is named for the doctor who first described it, James Ewing, there are two other types of bone tumor that belong to the Ewing family of tumors. One is called primitive neuroectodermal tumor or PNET. This tumor often times arises in the brain. The other is known as an Askin tumor, which usually arises in the chest wall.

There are differences in these types of tumors. But the cells that make them up are similar, they have the same DNA abnormalities, and they share proteins that aren’t found in cells of other cancers. All of the cancers progress in the same way, and all are treated the same way.

 

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