Bone cancer grows directly in any of the 270 bones, from a cartilage or fibrous tissue. Although human skeleton can also be the site of primary cancers, bone cancers are most often metastases, malignant tumors that metastasize to a bone from another organ especially breast, kidney, prostate, thyroid or lung. The most frequent include osteosarcomas (also called osteogenic sarcomas) which tend to occur mainly in children or young adults.
These primary bone cancers can affect any bone of the body, but in one case out of two they are located near the knee. However, all bones can be affected by secondary cancers called “bone metastases”, although osteosarcomas tend to develop especially at the spine and pelvis. The two main bone cancer symptoms are unusual pain and swelling, although some cases are asymptomatic at the beginning.
Bone cancer treatment is based primarily on surgery, chemotherapy but also on radiation therapy and hormone therapy. Surgical therapy is usually the main treatment. This is a cancer of good prognosis, having a 5-year relative survival of about 80%. Osteosarcoma prognosis has improved considerably in recent years and the cure is often possible without the need for amputation. Please see bone cancer treatment for more information.
Understand Bone Cancer
Primary cancers of the bones are uncommon; however, all bones may be the site of a malignant tumor, in particular in the case of secondary tumors (metastasis) of a cancer in other organ: lung, breast, kidney, thyroid or prostate. In fact, metastases can affect the skull to form a secondary tumor. In contrast, occurrence of secondary cancer on the extremity of an osteogenic tissue is rare.
Types of Bone Cancer
Primary osteogenic tumors are more common in children or young adults than among individuals of 40 years old or older. As for secondary bone cancers (metastases), it is, of course, the opposite; they occur essentially in adults.
There are several types of bone cancer:
Osteosarcoma – This is the most frequent primary cancer in bones. The tumor particularly affects the long bones, near their extremity. 2 out of 3 osteosarcoma cases develop near the knee. This cancer occurs mostly in individuals between the ages 10 and 20 years old.
Ewing’s Sarcoma – this is a tumor that can form in flat and short bones (pelvis, ribs, vertebrae…) as well as long bones of the legs or arms. The disease is diagnosed mainly children and young adolescents.
Chondrosarcoma – this is a cartilage tumor that usually affects adults between 30 and 70 years. It is virtually unknown in children.
Other rare types of bone cancer include fibrosarcoma, malignant fibrous histiocytoma (MFH), as well as chondrosarcomas which are basically cartilage cancers.