How To Understand Different Types Of Bone Cancer

Regardless of the type of bone cancer that a person develops, early diagnosis will determine the method of treatment and whether the treatment will effectively treat and cure it. Some patients will initially have to find an orthopedic surgeon to undergo surgery while others will receive chemotherapy or other types of non-invasive treatment.

Primary bone cancers originate in the bone where the growth of cancer cells begins. When secondary bone cancer occurs, it is the result of cancer that has spread from another area of the body. For example, if you have pancreatic cancer that metastasizes (spreads) to your leg bone, you actually have pancreatic cancer because of the type of cells. While a primary bone cancer is treated by an orthopedic surgeon, secondary cancers that originate in other areas of the body will need to be treated by the appropriate specialist for the original type of cancer.

Some of the more common types of bone cancer include:

  • Osteosarcoma – This is the single most common type of bone cancer and frequently occurs in teens and young adults although individuals of any age can acquire it. It is also found more often in the shin, lower thigh or upper arm.
  • Ewing’s Sarcoma – Somewhat similar to Osteosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma occurs most frequently in teens and is initially found in the shin, thigh or pelvis. One distinguishing difference is that Ewing’s can also present as a tumor in soft tissue throughout the body. This type of tumor is referred to as soft tissue sarcomas. The same types of treatment are used for those Ewing’s sarcomas that occur in the bone as in soft tissue tumors.
  • Spindle Cell Carcinoma–Although similar to osteosarcomas, spindle cell carcinoma does not produce an osteoid, or bony substance, that is associated with the osteosarcomas. This type of bone cancer also occurs in a different age group, affecting adults over the age of 40. Spindle cell carcinomas can be any of several types including:
  • Leiomyosarcoma
  • Fibrosarcoma
  • Malignant fibrous histiocytoma
  • Undifferentiated sarcoma of the bone

When a type of cancer is “undifferentiated” it means that the cancer cells are not specialized. As cells develop, they become specialized to perform a specific purpose in the body. Undifferentiated cells cannot be identified according to the type of bone from which they originated.

Of these different types of Spindle Cell carcinomas, malignant fibrous histiocytoma is rare. It usually occurs in middle-aged adults in the bones of the arms and legs. Also very rare, Fibrosarcoma often occurs in middle-aged adults and is often in the thigh bone. The rarest for of all is Leiomyosarcoma of bone which little is known about.

Treatments for Primary Bone Cancer:

Chemotherapy is often given as the initial treatment before the orthopedic surgeon performs surgery in order to shrink the tumor and make the surgical removal of the tumor easier. Additional types of treatment include biological therapy that is used in combination with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, often used in Ewing’s sarcoma patients to shrink the tumor after using chemotherapy or after the orthopedic surgeon has performed the surgery to prevent the return of the tumor.

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