Any bone can get infected with bone cancer. However, it is most commonly found in the hip and long bones (arms and legs). It is exceedingly uncommon, making up less than 1% of all cancers.
Some forms of bone cancer are more common in children, while others are more common in adults. Moreover, surgical removal is the most common treatment, but chemotherapy and radiation treatments are other options that doctors can suggest.
The treatment can begin only when you notice symptoms, consult and expert and undergo a diagnosis process. First, let’s talk about bone cancer and how long it takes to see its signs and symptoms.
Types of bone cancer
Primary bone cancer is a severe kind of bone cancer. It directly originates in the bones or surrounding tissue, such as cartilage. However, secondary bone cancer is a less common bone cancer than primary bone cancer.
Bone tumors are classified as follows:
1. Multiple myeloma (MM)
Multiple myeloma is the most common type of bone malignancy. When cancer cells originate in the bone marrow, malignancies develop in several bones. Most patients who have MM are over 50 years old.
2. Osteosarcoma (Osteogenic Sarcoma)
Osteosarcoma, also known as osteogenic sarcoma, is a bone cancer that primarily affects children and adolescents but can also impact adults. It usually starts in the elbows and knees, where the long bones meet.
Osteosarcoma can start in any body area, including the hips, shoulders, and other joints. It harms the hard tissue that makes up the outer layer of your bones.
3. Ewing's sarcoma
Ewing’s sarcoma is uncommon cancer in children and young adults that begins in the soft tissues surrounding the bones or in the bones themselves.
Chondrosarcoma is a kind of cancer that affects older persons’ pelvis, thighs, and shoulders. It grows in subchondral tissue, the tough connective tissue between your bones. Osteosarcoma is the second most common primary cancer of the bones.
With different types of bone cancer, the symptoms remain almost the same.
Bone Cancer Symptoms
The following are some signs and symptoms of this cancer:
- Bone Fracture
- Weight loss
Consult an expert if you notice such symptoms along with a situation where
- It gets worse at night.
- Over-the-counter pain medications are ineffective.
- If you or your kid develops bone pain, that: comes and goes.
Sometimes, all these symptoms don’t show up in the initial stages. In that case, you might don’t know you have bone cancer until:
- cancer has spread
- affected other parts
- symptoms are severe
The location of cancer, what it's doing, and how far it's spread throughout the body are all described in these stages.
- Stage 1 bone cancer does not spread beyond the bone.
- Even though stage 2 bone cancer has not spread, it has the potential to become invasive and poses a threat to other tissues.
- Stage 3 bone cancer has progressed to one or more regions of the bone and is invasive.
- Cancer has spread to the surrounding tissues and other organs such as the lungs or brain in stage 4.
How to detect bone cancer?
To estimate the stage of malignancies in the bones, your doctor may use one of the following methods:
- A biopsy is a technique that involves examining a small sample of tissue to determine whether it is cancerous.
- A bone scan is a test that looks at the condition of the bones.
- A blood test imaging procedure that combines X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans to get detailed images of the bone’s structure.
The following are the options available for bone cancer treatment:
Bone cancer is treated with the following medications:
- Pain medications for people undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma.
- Bisphosphonates – These are medications that assist prevent bone loss by protecting the structure of the bones.
- Cytotoxic drugs – Drugs that slow or stop cancerous cell growth.
- Radiation therapy
- Alternative theory
Bone cancer is a disease that affects your bone but can spread to other parts. Sometimes, it can be months or years till you notice any symptoms and go to a doctor.
However, the best way is to listen to your body and consult a doctor if you don’t feel well.