When the cells divide at a rate that is both abnormal and uncontrollable, it can form a mass of tissue (or lump).
This lump is called tumor.
A tumor that develops in the bones is known as bone tumor.
A bone tumor can be malignant or benign.
A benign tumor is considered harmless or non-fatal. A malignant tumor on the other hand is life-threatening as there is a huge possibility the cancer cells will spread to other parts of the body.
What are the likely causes?
Bone tumors have no known causes.
However, some potential causes have been identified.
Some of these possible causes include radiation, genetics, and bone injuries, to name a few.
Case in point—osteosarcoma has been attributed to anticancer medications as well as high doses of radiation.
Also, patients with bone fractures repaired using metal implants are believed to be more susceptible to osteosarcoma.
What are some of the symptoms?
- Fever – individuals with bone tumor will likely experience night sweats or fever. However, when fever does not manifest, the patient will likely notice tissue masses in different parts of the body.
- Dull ache – one of the typical indicators of bone cancer is a dull ache in the affected bone. Oftentimes, the ache will be occasional but will eventually become constant (and severe) overtime.
- Pathologic fracture – for undetected bone tumors, likely insignificant injuries can cause the already weakened bone to break. This is what is referred to as pathologic fracture.
This condition is known to be extremely excruciating. In some instances, noticeable swelling will manifest in the tumor site.
How is the condition diagnosed?
Fractures, infections, and other conditions will sometimes resemble bone tumors.
With that in mind, a number of tests will be recommended to ensure the diagnosis is accurate.
Some of these tests include:
Imaging tests – to pinpoint the exact location (as well as the size) of the tumor, an X-ray will be required.
Depending on the X-ray results, additional imaging tests might be recommended:
- PET scan – helps accurately pinpoint the tumor’s location
- MRI scan – paints a detailed picture of the area suspected
- CT scan – provides detailed images taken from different angles
- Angiogram – gives an X-ray of the blood vessels
Blood and urine tests – different proteins that might indicate bone tumor (or other possible medical issues) can be checked through blood and urine samples.
The alkaline phosphatase test is one of the tests done to check for bone tumor. Large quantities of the enzyme are a telltale indicator of bone tumor.
Biopsies – may be required by the doctor in order to get a better perspective of the condition.
There are 2 different kinds of biopsies:
Incisional biopsy – this kind is also called open biopsy. However, unlike needle biopsy, this type is done in the operating room while under general anesthesia.
Needle biopsy – this procedure is carried out by inserting a needle into the patient’s bone. This is done to remove a small portion of the tumor tissue.
What are the likely treatment options?
Treatment for bone tumor will depend on the type and the severity of the condition.
Radiation – in most cases, this treatment alternative is done in conjunction with surgery. Shrinking the tumor using high-dose X-ray is done before surgery is carried out. Radiation is also used to kill the cells that are cancerous.
Chemotherapy – this alternative is the likely resort in case the cancer cells have spread. Chemotherapy employs anticancer drugs to eradicate cancerous cells.
Cryosurgery – in this type of treatment, liquid nitrogen is used to kill the cancer cells. In some cases, cryosurgery is performed rather than regular surgery.
Surgery – this treatment is often the typical recourse for bone cancer. When performing surgery, the entire tumor is removed and the surgeon makes sure no cancer cells are left.