Bone cancer is a malignant tumor that originates in any bone in the body. Malignant means that it can spread or metastasize to other parts of the body. Bone cancer is relatively rare, making up less than 1 percent of all cancers.

It can occur in any bone in the body, but it most commonly affects the long bones in the arms and legs. There are several types of bone cancer, including Osteosarcoma, Chondrosarcoma, Ewing’s Sarcoma, and others. Each type of bone cancer has specific characteristics and requires different treatment strategies.

The exact cause of most bone cancers remains unknown, but certain factors such as previous exposure to radiation, history of Paget’s disease of the bone, and certain inherited syndromes may increase the risk.

Bone cancer

Symptoms of bone cancer often include pain in the affected bone that may become more noticeable as the tumor grows, swelling and tenderness near the affected area, fatigue, unintended weight loss, and weakened bone leading to fracture. If you have persistent signs and symptoms that worry you, it is advisable to make an appointment with your doctor.

Treatment for bone cancer may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these. The choice of treatment depends largely on the type, size, location, and stage of cancer, as well as the person’s overall health. The prognosis for bone cancer greatly depends on the type of cancer and the extent of spread.

Causes of Bone cancer

Bone cancer occurs when bone cells divide uncontrollably, forming a mass or tumor. Though the definitive cause of bone cancer is not known, a variety of factors can increase the risk of its development. These include:

1. Genetic Disorders: Certain rare genetic syndromes passed through families can increase the risk of bone cancer, including Li-Fraumeni syndrome and hereditary retinoblastoma.

2. Paget’s Disease: Though it’s not a form of cancer, people with Paget’s disease, a condition that causes bones to become thick and brittle, have an elevated risk of developing bone cancer.

3. Radiation: Exposure to large doses of radiation, such as from radiation therapy for previous cancers, may increase the risk of subsequent bone cancer.

4. Bone Marrow Transplant: People who have undergone bone marrow transplants may have a somewhat increased risk of developing osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

Remember, it’s possible to develop bone cancer without any of these risk factors, and having one or more risk factors doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get bone cancer.

Risk Factors of Bone cancer

1. Age: Bone cancer can occur at any age, but certain types are more common in children and young adults. On the other hand, types of Bone cancers such as Chondrosarcoma, may occur in older adults.

2. Gender: Certain types of bone cancer occur more frequently in males than in females. For instance, Osteosarcoma is more common in males.

3. Previous Radiation Therapy: Exposure to large doses of radiation increases the likelihood of developing bone cancer. People who have undergone radiation therapy for other conditions have a higher risk.

4. Paget’s Disease: This is a condition that causes bones to become thick and brittle. Those with Paget’s disease are at a higher risk of developing bone cancer.

5. Genetics: Certain genetic syndromes passed through families, such as hereditary retinoblastoma and Li-Fraumeni syndrome, can increase the risk of bone cancer.

6. Bone Marrow Transplant: Individuals who’ve had a bone marrow or stem cell transplant have a higher risk of developing osteosarcoma.

7. Other Cancer Treatments: Chemotherapy drugs, especially the ones that contain alkylating agents, can increase the risk of developing secondary cancers like bone cancer.

Remember, having one or more risk factors doesn’t necessarily mean you will develop the disease. It just increases the odds. Regular check-ups and tests are important, especially if you have any of these risk factors.

Signs and Symptoms of Bone cancer

Bone cancer is a condition that occurs when cells in the bone start to divide uncontrollable, which may spread to other areas of the body. While it can occur in any bone in the body, it most often affects the long bones in the arms and legs. Here are some signs and symptoms that may be associated with bone cancer:

1. Pain: Bone pain can come and go at first, then become constant as the cancer advances. It may be more noticeable at night, or when using the bone.

2. Swelling: Swelling and tenderness near the affected area may occur. For some people, there might be a noticeable lump.

3. Fractures: Abnormal cells within your bones can make them weaker, which can sometimes lead to fractures. This can happen even with minor injuries or no injuries.

4. Decreased mobility: Depending on the location of the cancer, patients might have a difficult time moving the affected area, which may lead to limping.

5. Unexplained weight loss: This is common in people with cancer and might especially occur when the cancer is advanced.

6. Fatigue: Feeling extremely tired without obvious reasons can be a symptom.

7. Fever or night sweats: Bone cancer can sometimes cause fever, night sweats, or unexplained fevers.

8. Decreased appetite: As with many other types of cancer, bone cancer can also cause a diminished appetite.

It’s important to notice that these symptoms are not specific to bone cancer and can be caused by other, less serious conditions. However, if you or someone else continues to have these symptoms, it’s crucial to get them checked out by a healthcare professional.

Diagnosis Bone cancer

Bone cancer is a rare type of cancer that begins in the cells of the bone. This disease can start in any bone in the body, but it most commonly affects the pelvis or the long bones in the arms and legs. Bone cancer is often characterized by bone pain, swelling and tenderness near the affected area, fractures, fatigue and unexplained weight loss.

There are several types of bone cancer, each with their own unique characteristics. These include osteosarcoma (most common in teenagers and younger adults), chondrosarcoma (initiates in cartilage cells), Ewing’s sarcoma (most commonly occurs in children and adolescents), and others.

Diagnosing bone cancer usually involves a combination of imaging tests (like X-rays, bone scans, CT, MRI, or PET scans), blood tests and a biopsy (where a sample of tissue is taken from the bone for examination under a microscope).

The stages of bone cancer are determined by how far the cancer cells have spread beyond your original tumor and is crucial for formulating a prognosis and deciding on the course of treatment. Treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, cryosurgery, or targeted therapy. Survival rates depend on the type, stage, location of the disease, and the patient’s overall health.

Treatment of Bone cancer

Bone cancer treatment varies depending on the type, location, and stage of the cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health. Below are some of the common treatments for bone cancer:

1. Surgery: This is the most common treatment for bone cancer. The goal is to remove the entire cancerous tumor. In some cases, the surgeon might need to remove all or part of the limb affected (amputation), but modern techniques often enable surgeons to avoid this, instead removing only the cancerous section of the bone or tissue (limb-sparing surgery).

2. Radiation therapy: This uses high-powered energy beams, such as X-rays and protons, to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is often used in combination with surgery, or when surgery isn’t an option.

3. Chemotherapy: This is a drug treatment that can kill cancer cells around your body. It might be used before surgery to help shrink the tumor or after surgery to kill any cancer cells that might remain.

4. Targeted therapy: These drugs specifically target cancer cells, leaving healthier cells untouched. They may be used in certain types of bone cancer.

5. Cryosurgery: Involves using liquid nitrogen or argon gas to freeze and destroy cancer cells, often used in conjunction with surgery.

6. Immunotherapy: This therapy leverages the body’s immune system to fight cancer.

In certain stages of the disease, palliative care also becomes an important aspect of managing symptoms and improving the quality of life.

Supportive treatments like physiotherapy and occupational therapy may also be recommended to help manage symptoms and aid recovery. It’s important for patients to consult with their healthcare provider to understand the best treatment plan for their specific case.

Medications commonly used for Bone cancer

There are various types of medications used to treat bone cancer, ranging from chemotherapy to targeted therapies. Here are some of the most commonly used:

1. Chemotherapy: Often used as the first line of treatment, chemotherapy drugs kill rapidly-growing cells, including cancer cells. Some commonly used chemotherapy drugs for bone cancer include Methotrexate, Cisplatin, Doxorubicin, and Ifosfamide. Your doctor may prescribe a combination of these drugs.

2. Targeted Therapy: Unlike chemotherapy, targeted therapies specifically target cancer cells, reducing damage to healthy cells. Drugs like Denosumab are used for bone cancers that originate in the bones. It targets a protein that helps cancer cells grow.

3. Bisphosphonates: These drugs, including Zoledronic Acid and Pamidronate, slow down or prevent bone damage, and are often used in cases where the cancer has spread to the bones.

4. Immunotherapy Drugs: Some drugs stimulate your immune system to attack cancer cells more effectively. For example, Nivolumab and Pembrolizumab are immune checkpoint inhibitors, which “unleash” your immune system on cancer cells.

5. Bone-modifying Drugs: These are used to reinforce the bone, prevent future fractures, and decrease pain. They also help to minimize other symptoms of bone cancer.

6. Steroids: These can be used to help reduce inflammation and improve the patient’s appetite and general feeling of wellbeing.

7. Pain Relief: Pain is a common symptom of bone cancer, and pain relief medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, are often part of a patient’s treatment plan.

Remember, your healthcare team will discuss with you and choose the best medication based on your specific type of bone cancer, the stage of the cancer, its location, your overall health, and possible side effects. Your treatment plan may also include surgery and radiation therapy in addition to these medications. It’s important to ensure you understand the side effects and risks of each medication, and to discuss any concerns or questions with your doctor.

Prevention of Bone cancer

Preventing bone cancer can be hard because its exact cause is not always known. However, there are some measures that may help prevent or minimize the risk of developing bone cancer:

1. Regular Exercise: Regular exercise can help maintain healthy bones.

2. Good Nutrition: Eating a healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D can help maintain bone health.

3. Limit Radiation Exposure: High levels of radiation represent a risk factor for bone cancer. Therefore, limit your exposure whenever possible.

4. Regular Checkups: Regular follow-ups with your doctor can ensure earliest detection and treatment of cancer.

5. Avoid Exposure to certain chemicals: Certain cancer-causing chemicals, like radium and strontium, may increase the risk of developing bone cancer.

6. Build a Strong Immune System: A strong immune system can potentially fight off many disease conditions. You can build a stronger immune system with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep.

7. Genetics: If you have a family history of certain hereditary syndromes, like Li-Fraumeni or Rothmund-Thompson, speak to a doctor about your risk of bone cancer.

8. Anti-cancer Vaccines: Some vaccines boost the body’s immune system to kill cancer cells. Currently, these are mainly used for specific types of cancer but in the future, they may be applicable to bone cancer as well.

Despite these preventative measures, it’s important to remember that bone cancer can still occur. Early detection and regular screenings are essential in the management of this disease.

Also, consult a medical professional for personalized advice about your health and preventative strategies.

FAQ’s about Bone cancer

1. What is Bone Cancer?
Bone cancer is a malignant tumor that arises from the cells that make up the bones of the body. Primary bone tumors are tumors that arise in the bone tissue itself.

2. What are the common types of Bone Cancer?
The most common types include osteosarcoma (often occurs in young people), Ewing’s sarcoma (primarily affects children and adolescents), and chondrosarcoma (occurs in adults).

3. What are the symptoms of Bone Cancer?
Symptoms may include persistent bone pain that gets worse over time and continues into the night or when at rest, a noticeable mass or swelling, and weakening of the affected bone leading to fracture.

4. What causes Bone Cancer?
Most bone cancers aren’t caused by any particular factors, but some conditions, like Paget’s disease of bone or having high doses of radiation to an area of the body, may increase the risk.

5. How is Bone Cancer diagnosed?
Diagnosis typically involves physical examination, imaging techniques like X-rays, CT scans, MRI, and PET scans, and a biopsy, where a sample of tissue is taken and studied under a microscope.

6. What’s the treatment for Bone Cancer?
Common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. The treatment will often depend on the specific type, location, and stage of the bone cancer.

7. What is the survival rate of Bone Cancer?
Survival rates depend on many factors, including the type of cancer, stage, patient’s age, and overall health. For instance, the 5-year survival rate for localized osteosarcoma is around 60% to 80%.

8. Can Bone Cancer be prevented?
There’s no sure way to prevent bone cancer. However, a healthy lifestyle which includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, and avoiding carcinogenic substances like tobacco and excessive alcohol can all help reduce the overall risk of developing cancers.

9. Does Bone Cancer spread quickly?
Some types of bone cancer can spread quickly. Prompt medical attention upon symptom onset is vital to ensure early diagnosis and effective treatment.

10. Who’s at risk of Bone Cancer?
Anyone can develop bone cancer, but it’s more common in children and young people. Factors like family history of cancers, exposure to radiation, and certain genetic disorders can increase the risk.

Remember, it’s always best to consult a medical professional or oncologist for accurate information and treatment options.

Useful links

Bone cancer, also known as osteosarcoma, is a rare type of cancer that originates in the bones. This cancer can occur in any of the bones in the body, but it is most commonly diagnosed in the long bones of the arms and legs, as well as the bones of the pelvis.

Here are some useful links to scholarly articles and journals about bone cancer:


Please remember to obtain any information from these articles through either an institutional access or by purchasing the specific article, to support the works of these researchers.

Complications of Bone cancer

Bone cancer is a rare type of cancer that starts in the bones. The complications of bone cancer can be severe and include the following:

1. Pain: This is one of the most common complications. Pain can occur at the site of the cancer and can become constant and severe as the cancer progresses.

2. Fractures: Bone cancer can weaken the bone it’s in, and in some cases, this might cause the bone to fracture or break. This can occur suddenly, or from a minor injury.

Bone cancer

3. Limits on mobility: Depending on the location of the cancer, it can limit the person’s mobility. This could mean they may not be able to walk or move a certain part of their body.

4. Bone destruction: As it progresses, bone cancer can lead to significant bone loss or destruction.

5. Spread of cancer (metastasis): If not caught and treated early, bone cancer can spread to other parts of the body, typically through the blood or lymph system. Common sites of spread include the lungs and other bones.

6. Nerve compression: In some cases, the cancer can compress nerves leading to numbness, tingling and pain.

7. Infections: Bone infection is a serious complication that needs immediate medical attention.

8. Blood clots: Cancer increases the risk of blood clots. And some treatments for cancer, like surgery, can further increase this risk.

9. Side effects of treatment: Treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy have side effects that can add more complications such as hair loss, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and a higher risk of infection due to a weakened immune system.

10. Psychological impact: Like any serious illness, bone cancer can lead to depression, anxiety, and fear. These psychological issues can affect one’s quality of life and overall health.

Each individual’s experience with bone cancer will be different, and their treatment plan and the complications they experience will depend on various factors such as age, overall health, and the size and stage of the cancer.

Home remedies of Bone cancer

Home remedies can never replace professional medical treatment for serious conditions like bone cancer. Bone cancer is a serious and life-threatening condition that requires prompt and specialized medical treatment, often including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these.

However, certain complementary therapies and lifestyle changes can help support the medical treatment and improve a patient’s overall well-being. It’s important to discuss all these options with your healthcare provider to understand their implications. Here are some general suggestions:

1. Healthy Diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins can boost your immune system and help the body recover from treatments.

2. Regular Exercise: Gentle exercises, after consultation with your doctor, can help maintain bone strength and fight fatigue.

3. Adequate Rest: Get plenty of sleep to help your body recover and cope with the side effects of treatment.

4. Hydration: Stay well-hydrated, it helps the body function properly and can help cope with certain side effects of treatment.

5. Mind-Body Therapies: Techniques such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi can help manage stress, improve mental health, and enhance overall wellbeing.

6. Traditional Systems: Systems like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), when practiced under professional supervision, may provide supportive treatment.

Remember, these are complementary to professional medical treatments and NOT a substitute. Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new regimen.

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Last Update: January 11, 2024