Bone cancer is a rare cancer that affects the bones initially and can affect any bone in the human body, though the bones that make up the limbs are most commonly affected. Primary bone cancer does not include cancers of the blood cells or cancers that begin in other parts of the body. Bone cancer is often marked by pain which increases in intensity; other symptoms may vary depending upon the location and size of the tumor.
There are many different forms of bone cancer varying in severity, the most frequent being osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, malignant fibrous histocytoma and Ewing’s sarcoma, which are all classified as primary bone tumors. Bone cancer is usually treated with surgery, as well as amputation, chemotherapy and radiation. Osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma are the two most commonly diagnosed bone cancers and occur mostly in children and young adults. Malignant fibrous histocytoma or MFH makes up less than 1% of bone tumor diagnoses and is most commonly found in adults.
Primary bone cancers affect adults and children alike, though certain bone cancers are more common in certain age groups. About 2,000 primary bone cancer diagnoses occur each year in the United States according the University of Maryland Medical Center. Symptoms besides pain may exist; these include swelling of the joints, weakened bone structure leading to easy fracturing, fatigue and stiffness. Genetics affect your likelihood of developing bone cancer, older people are also more likely, and African Americans run twice the risk of Caucasians of developing bone cancer. Cancer can occur in any part of the bone, beginning when normal cells within the bone change and grow irrepressibly, forming a tumor. Not all bone tumors are malignant, some can be benign.
Bone cancer can be very frightening and painful for patients, children and adults alike. Treatments exist that can make the condition much more manageable, including chemotherapy, bone transplants and other orthopedic surgeries. Bone cancer is not a common form of cancer and more frequently bones are the site of tumors that result from the spread of cancer from another part of the body. The exact cause of bone cancer is unknown, however children and young adults seem to be targeted more often, and the condition is predominant in those who have had radiation treatments or exposure or chemotherapy for other conditions. A biopsy is necessary for diagnosis, and treatment started early can be the most effective.