Although it is considered as a bone cancer, chondrosarcoma is a malignant tumor of cartilage,due to its characteristic to develop from cartilage cells. This is a rare cancer which represents 20% primitive bone tumors. Although it can affect anyone, and any age group, chondrosarcoma is found most often in adults.
The tumor tends to develop in the hip, pelvis and, in rare cases, in the leg or arm (metaphysis ordiaphysis). However, any bony part of the human body can be affected by the cancer, even the base of the skull is a probability.
Chondrosarcoma Causes and risk factors
Chondrosarcoma causes are not really known. There may be a genetic or chromosomal component that predisposes an individual to the disease, scientists think. Radiation therapy is suspected the fact some cases of chondrosarcoma are diagnosed after the end of radiotherapy for other cancers.
Most often, chondrosarcoma occurs from normal cartilage cells, but it can also come from abenign tumor of bone or preexisting cartilage. Although not complete, the following is a list ofsome benign conditions that are suspected in the increase risk of the occurrence of chondrosarcoma:
- Enchondroma– A type of benign (noncancerous – non-malignant) bone tumor that originates from the inside of the bone (cartilage) and usually affects the hands (although itcan also affect other areas).
- Osteochondroma– a non-malignant tumor that occurs mostly during childhood or adolescence, and characterized by a proliferation of cells of cartilage and bone near theend of the bone near the growth plate.
- Multiple Exostoses – this condition consists of the development of multiple benign (noncancerous) bone tumors called exostoses, formation of new bone on the surface of a bone.
- Ollier disease – also known as enchondromatosis, Ollier disease is a rare skeletal disorder characterized by abnormal bone development (skeletal dysplasia) or multiple enchondromas.
- Maffucci‘s syndrome – this rare condition is characterized by a combination of multipleenchondromas, benign cartilage tumors that usually affect the hands; and angiomas, benign tumors made up of blood vessels.
Bone pain and presence of a solid mass are the first chondrosarcoma symptoms. However, as the tumor increases in size, it can compress adjacent organs and even cause bone fractureeasily.
Chondrosarcoma symptoms may vary depending on the location of the tumor; and each individual may experience symptoms differently. The following are the most common symptomsof chondrosarcoma in general:
- Pain at night in the affected limb
- Persistent pain that is not usually relieved by rest
- Large mass on the affected bone/cartilage, which can be painful
- Feeling of pressure or uncomfortably around the mass
- Chronic Pain that may be present for years but increases gradually over time.
Chondrosarcoma diagnosis is done using imaging procedures: radiography, CT…. Imagine technique shows the invasion of malignant or necrosis (death of body tissue) of bone and soft tissue.
Radiographic examination allows the health care provider to visualize bony areas destroyed by the cancer, while imaging or MRI scanner provides very interesting information on the size, location and spread of the tumor. But most cancer specialists believe it requires a biopsy to confirm a chondrosarcoma diagnosis with certainty.
There is no unique chondrosarcoma treatment; specific treatment for each case of the disease is determined based on age, overall health, and medical history of the patient. The size and stage of the tumor, as well as tolerance of the patient for specific medications, play major role in determining the treatment. Opinion and/or preference of the patient must be considered before the final word of the oncologist.
However, unlike other bone cancers, chondrosarcoma is resistant to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, although nowadays there is great hope on using proton therapy to fight it. The main therapy therefore is exclusively surgery.
Surgical removal of the tumor is the standard chondrosarcoma treatment. In the most severe cases, it is sometimes necessary to resort to amputation to remove the cancer in order to to reduce or eliminate the risk of recurrence and metastases.
Therefore, after the end of the therapy the patient should be well monitored for any recurrence or metastases in cases of highly malignant tumor.