Tumors of the musculoskeletal system, whether benign or malignant, are relatively rare. According to the American Cancer Society, primary bone cancers constitute less than 0.2 percent of all cancers, with an estimate of just under 3,000 new cases diagnosed in 2015.
A skilled and experienced orthopedic oncology surgeon is trained in cutting-edge techniques that improve the chances of sparing the affected bone. Here is a look at the types of bone cancers and available treatments.
Types of bone cancer
Most bone cancers are metastasized, meaning they result from the spread of cancer that originated in another part of the body. Breast and prostate cancer are the most frequent causes, with more than two out of three cases that metastasize progressing to the bones.
Primary bone cancers, known as sarcomas, develop directly in the bone. The most common of these types is osteosarcoma, which affects mainly the young and the elderly. Sarcomas can also develop in muscles, tendons, blood vessels and other soft tissues.
Diagnosing bone cancer
While most lumps and bumps are not cancerous, you should always have them evaluated. Your orthopedic oncology surgeon will use imaging, such as ultrasound or MRI, before proceeding with a biopsy if necessary. If you are experiencing bone pain, an x-ray may be sufficient for a diagnosis.
Early diagnosis greatly improves chances of successful treatment. If the tumor is not detected in time, the bone will deteriorate, which may result in a pathologic fracture.
Bone cancer treatments
Traditional cancer treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy, are indicated for some bone cancer cases. A soft tissue tumor can often be excised with minimum disturbance to function.
Surgical techniques have progressed to the point where cases requiring amputation have been reduced significantly. An orthopedic oncology surgeon uses specialized training to reconstruct damage that may occur to the bone or joint.
Physicians at our Center of Excellence for Orthopedic Oncology have extensive experience treating both pediatric and adult patients. Visit our website or call 602.466.7591 to schedule an appointment.