Cancer is an insidious disease that may affect all parts of the body: skeletal, muscular, and internal organ tissues. Bone cancer is relatively uncommon and generally originates in one of the bones of the body, most commonly the longer bones of the arms and legs. In many cases, if not caught early enough, cancer of the bone may spread to other organs of the body. Bone cancer is not the same as blood cell cancers such as leukemia, which originates in the bone marrow
Bone cancer is identified through a variety of tests that may include:
Biopsies of suspected tissues are often collected from the body tissues to determine what type of cancer as well as the stage a progression it has reached at the time of diagnosis. Cancer is classified by stage:
Treatments for bone cancer will be determined according to the stage the cancer is in when diagnosed as well as the overall general health, or any additional medical conditions, in the individual.
The most common treatment for any type of cancer is surgery to remove the cancerous growth. In the cases of bone cancer, treatment options depend on whether or not the cancerous limb may be saved. Large sections of bone cancer or those that originate in locations such as joints that may complicate surgical procedures, may require amputation or removal of part or all of a limb.
However, bone cancer that can be isolated from surrounding nerves and tissues may be performed with a focus on saving the limb. In the case where cancer affects other bones in the body, such as a rib or the spine, the surgeon will remove the cancer while at the same time striving to preserve as much bone structure is possible. In such cases, metal prosthesis may be inserted to substitute integrity and support.
Chemotherapyis a process where drugs are injected into the body to kill cancerous cell growth. Chemotherapy is designed to target and destroy cancer cells, but also has a detrimental effect on healthy cells in the body as well, commonly resulting in side effects such as nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and fatigue.
Radiation therapyis a type of x-ray that aims a high powered beam of energy to the part of the body where cancer growth has occurred. This is an external procedure, and is often utilized prior to surgery to help shrink cancer cells, tumors and growths. For cases where bone cancer can't be removed through surgical procedures, radiation therapy is often used to help control and reduce symptoms such as pain and spread of the cancerous tissue.
A surgeon may decide to use a combination or all three of the common procedures in the treatment of bone cancer, as well as other medications to kill cancerous cell growth.
Cancer Treatment Specialists
Cancer specialists are called oncologists and specialize in the field of oncology. In most cases, primary care physicians will refer patients to a cancer specialist. Medical organizations such as the American Medical Association, or the American College of Surgeons will be able to offer the names of cancer specialists, as well as through cancer organizations throughout the country of origin.
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