WHO COULD HAVE A BONE TUMOR/SARCOMA AND WHEN?
Dr Rajeev Reddy
MBBS, D Ortho, DNB Ortho,
FOLS, FMO, FAGE, MNAMS
Consultant Orthopaedic Oncology
A bone tumuor is an excessive collection of bad bone (or a kind of tissue called as connective tissue) in the bone and structures surrounding the bone like muscles, fat and joints.
Bone tumours can be of three types
The first ones are restricted to the bone and cause problems locally only in the bone, called as benign tumours. When not treated by an expert like an Orthopaedic Oncosurgeon, the chances of the tumuor coming back in the same place are high.
The second type are more aggressive and spread outside the bone to various other organs like lungs, liver etc. This second type is called as bone cancer or sarcomas (malignant tumours).
Bone Tumours due to Metastasis:
In the third type, bones can also develop a tumuor when a cancer elsewhere in the body – lung, breast, kidney, prostate, thyroid, stomach, liver- spreads to any of the 206 bones in the body. This spread weakens the bones and can cause them to fracture. These fractures are called as pathological fractures and the spread is called as metastasis. Hence when a cancer is detected elsewhere in the body, it is important to know if this cancer has spread to the bone. This valuable information is acquired by undergoing a Bone scan or a PET scan.
Benign bone tumours (first type) are fully treatable. The chances of them returning are much less in the hands of an expert Orthopaedic Oncosurgeon. Using modern surgical techniques and physical/chemical adjuvants during the surgery, the chances of success are very high, thus reducing the chances of recurrence.
Bone cancers or sarcomas (second type) on the other hand, need a combination of surgery along with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The decision to use these therapies, along with surgery, is taken by a team comprising of an Orthopaedic Oncosurgeon, Medical Oncologist and Radiation Oncologist- as only some of them require chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Bone tumours can occur in a wide range of age group- from 4 year olds to a 70 year old. Anyone who develops spontaneous pain or swelling which is persisting, should visit an Orthopaedic Oncologist/Oncosurgeon or at least an Orthopaedician. While these symptoms may not indicate a bone tumuor (as an infection can sometimes present this way), precaution is always better.
Most bone tumours are treatable, if they are caught early and have not spread elsewhere. Look for spontaneous pain or swelling anywhere in the body and do not ignore these symptoms.