Bone Cancer

Although bone cancer can develop in any bone in the body, the pelvis or the long bones in the arms and legs are the most frequently affected. Bone tumors are exceedingly rare, accounting for less than 1% of all malignancies. In reality, benign bone tumors are much more common than cancerous ones.

Bone cancer is not the same as cancer that originates elsewhere in the body and "metastasizes" (spreads) to the bone. As an alternative, such tumors are given names based on where they originated, such as bone metastasizing breast cancer.

While certain types of bone cancer mostly affect adults, others primarily affect children. Surgery is the most common method of treatment, although additional alternatives include chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The best treatment option depends on the kind of bone cancer being treated and may involve surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.

Bone Cancer: Causes

Most bone malignancies have an unknown etiology. Certain bone tumors have a genetic component, whereas others are correlated with radiation exposure in the past.

Bone Cancer: Types

Based on the type of cell where cancer started, different forms of bone cancers are classified. The most typical forms of bone cancer consist of −

  • Osteosarcoma − The most prevalent type of bone cancer is osteosarcoma. The malignant cells in this tumor generate bone. The bones of the leg or arm are the most common sites for this kind of bone cancer to develop in children and young adults. Rarely, osteosarcomas can develop outside of bones (extra skeletal osteosarcomas).

  • Chondrosarcoma − The second most frequent kind of bone cancer is chondrosarcoma. The malignant cells in this tumor create cartilage. In middle-aged and older individuals, chondrosarcoma often develops in the pelvis, legs, or arms.

  • Sarcoma of Ewing  Children and young adult’s pelvis, legs, or arms are the most likely locations for Ewing sarcoma tumors to develop.

Bone Cancer: Symptoms

The major symptoms include −

  • A bone ache

  • Affected area tenderness and swelling

  • Fractured bone due to weakened bone

  • Fatigue

  • Unwanted loss of weight

Bone Cancer: Risk Factors

Although the exact etiology of bone cancer is unknown, many variables have been linked to a higher risk, including −

  • Genetic disorders inherited  Li-Fraumeni syndrome and hereditary retinoblastoma are two examples of uncommon genetic diseases that raise the risk of bone cancer in families.

  • Bone disease caused by Paget  Paget's disease of the bone, which most frequently affects elderly persons, can raise the chance of later-onset bone cancer.

  • Cancer radiation treatment  Future bone cancer risk is increased by exposure to high radiation doses, such as those used in radiation treatment for cancer.

Bone Cancer: Diagnosis

Imaging examinations can be used to assess the size, location, and potential spread of bone cancers to other body regions. Your particular indications and symptoms will determine the best imaging test kinds.

Testing could involve −

  • Scan of the bone

  • Computer-aided imaging (CT)

  • Imaging with magnetic resonance (MRI)

  • X-ray used in positron emission tomography (PET)

Surgical or Needle Biopsies

Your doctor could advise a procedure called a biopsy to take a sample of tissue from the tumor for laboratory analysis. If the tissue is malignant, a test can inform your doctor what kind of cancer you have and whether it is present. Moreover, it might show if the tumor cells are expanding rapidly or slowly.

The following categories of biopsy techniques are used to identify bone cancer −

  • Using a needle to stab a tumor through your skin. Your doctor will slide a small needle through your skin and into the tumor during a needle biopsy. Little fragments of tumor tissue are removed with the needle by your doctor.

  • Surgery to extract a sample of tissue for analysis. Your doctor will create a skin incision during a surgical biopsy to remove the entire tumor or a section of it.

Your medical team must carefully consider the sort of biopsy you require and the specifics of how it should be carried out. The biopsy must be carried out by medical professionals without interfering with upcoming bone cancer removal operations. For this reason, before your biopsy, request from your doctor a recommendation to a group of medical professionals who have a great deal of expertise in treating bone tumors.

Bone Cancer Stages

After a bone cancer diagnosis is confirmed, your doctor will try to ascertain the cancer's stage to evaluate your treatment choices. Things to take into account include −

  • The tumor's dimensions

  • How quickly the cancer is expanding

  • The number of impacted bones, such as nearby spine vertebrae,

  • Whether the disease has spread to different bodily areas

Roman numerals from 0 to IV are used to denote the various stages of bone cancer. The tumor is smaller and less aggressive in its early stages. By stage IV, cancer has metastasized to many bodily regions.

Bone Cancer: Treatment

A doctor may suggest the following treatment procedures based on the severity and stage of bone cancer −


The entire malignant tumor is intended to be removed during surgery. In the majority of cases, this entails using specialized procedures to remove the tumor whole, along with a tiny amount of the surrounding healthy tissue. The surgeon either uses bone from another part of the patient's body, material from a bone bank, or a metal and hard plastic substitute to replace the missing bone.

Surgery to amputate all or a portion of a limb may be necessary to remove a big or difficult bone malignancy (amputation). Amputations are being used less frequently as new therapies are created.


Chemotherapy kills cancer cells by administering potent anti-cancer medications intravenously, or into a vein. Certain types of bone cancer respond better to this kind of treatment than others, though. For instance, chemotherapy plays a significant role in the management of osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma even if it is typically not particularly successful for chondrosarcoma.

Radiation Treatment

X-rays and other powerful energy beams are used in radiation treatment to destroy cancer cells. You lie on a table during radiation therapy as a specialized machine travels around you and directs energy beams to specific locations on your body.

Since radiation treatment might decrease the tumor and make it simpler to remove, it is frequently performed before surgery. This in turn can lessen the possibility that an amputation will be required.

Patients with bone cancer who are not candidates for surgery may also benefit from radiation treatment. Radiation treatment may be applied following surgery to eradicate any residual cancer cells. Radiation treatment may assist patients with advanced bone cancer in managing their signs and symptoms, including pain.

Bone Cancer: Prevention

Although it is generally advisable to keep a healthy weight and stop using cigarettes, no known lifestyle modifications can stop bone sarcoma at the moment.


The lungs are where bone cancer spreads most commonly, although it can also move to other bones and, less frequently, to other tissues. Overall, including situations where the tumor has migrated to other areas of the body, the prognosis for long-term survival has increased to more than 50%.

Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha
Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha