Bone cancer is a type of cancer rarely met. Bone cancer can begin in any bone of the body, but most commonly affects the long bones in the arms and legs. There are many types of bone cancer. Some of these occur mainly to children, while others affect adults more.
The term bone cancer does not include the types of cancer that begin in other tissues of the body and spread to the bone. It also does not address blood cancers such as multiple myeloma and leukemia , which starts in the bone marrow.
Types of bone cancer
Bone cancer is caused by a problem with the cells that make the bone. There are several different types of bone cancer. The most common primary bone tumors include osteosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, chondrosarcoma, malignant fibrous histocitomul, fibrosarcoma, and chordoma.
– Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer. It occurs most frequently in males aged between 10 and 25 years. However, it can also affect adults. Osteosarcoma often starts in the long bones of the arms and legs, in areas of rapid growth around the knees and shoulders. This type of cancer is often aggressive with risk of spreading to the lungs.
– Ewing sarcoma is the most aggressive form of bone cancer and affects young people between the ages of 4 and 15 years. It occurrs more frequently among boys and is rarely seen in adults over 30 years. Ewing sarcoma most often starts in the middle of the long bones of the arms and legs.
– Chondrosarcoma is the second type of bone cancer and accounts for 25% of all malignant bone tumors. These tumors develop from cartilage cells and can be aggressive or relatively slow growing. Unlike many bone tumors, chondrosarcoma is most commonly manifested in people over 40. It affects the men more and can spread to the lungs and lymph nodes. Chondrosarcoma is most often located in the pelvis and hip bones.
– Malignant fibrous histiocytoma affecting soft tissues, including the muscles, ligaments and tendons. This type of cancer usually occurs in people aged 50-60 years. It is present mainly in the extremities and is also twice more common in men than in women.
– Fibrosarcoma is much rarer than other tumors. It occurs most often in people aged between 35 and 55 years and affects the soft tissues behind the knee.
– Chordoma is a very rare bone tumor with a survival rate of more than 6 years after diagnosis. Chordoma occurs in adults over 30 years and most often affects males. This type of bone cancer occurs mainly in the lower or upper spine.
Signs and symptoms
Unfortunately, bone cancer symptoms do not occur in a meaningful way unless the disease is in an advanced stage. In addition, many cancers develop slowly over a long period of time, which can determine the patient to associate the symptoms with other conditions related to aging, such as arthritis. Other factors that influence the symptoms of bone cancer include its location and size.
The most common symptom of bone tumors is pain. In most cases, the pain gradually becomes more severe. Initially, pain may be present only at night or during physical activity. Depending on the size of the tumor sufferers may experience symptoms for weeks, months or even years before going to medical examination.
In limited cases, patients may experience a feeling of a constant cut of the tissues around the bones. This symptom is more common in malignant fibrous histiocytoma or fibrosarcoma but can occur with other types of bone cancer.
Over time, tumor growth can cause bone fragility. In this case, bone fractures and trauma occur more often and more easily than normal. This is a definitive sign of bone cancer and may be present in both malignant tumors as well as in cases of benign tumors. Even benign tumors can spread and can weaken bones.
If the tumor compresses a nerve in the affected area, the patient may feel pain, numbness, or tingling in the area. When compressed, the blood vessels around the tumor affect the blood flow.
Other less common signs and symptoms include fever, chills, night sweats and weight loss. These events are more frequent after the cancer spreads to other tissues in the body.
The first thing the doctor will try is trying to know the medical history of the patient. This will include a review of past health problems and symptoms, and their progression. Next, the doctor will recommend conducting specific investigations.
– X-rays . Though X-rays are a very effective diagnostic tool, in the case of bone cancer in its early stages it will not appear on x-ray images.
– Computed tomography. CT scan provides a detailed picture of the bones and is more effective in detecting cancer in early stages. Scanning also provides additional information on the size and location of the tumor.
– Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A MRI can provide detailed images of bones and soft tissues, including muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and blood vessels.
– Biopsy. In most cases, the tests from above help your doctor see which is the best place where they can take a small sample of tissue or bone for biopsy.