Bone cancer is a growth that destroys normal bone tissue. It can also spread beyond the bone. It may be:
There are many different types of bone cancer including:
Bone cancer occurs when cells divide without control or order. These cells grow together to form a tumor. These tumors are malignant. That means they can invade nearby tissues. It causes damage to nearby healthy tissue and can spread to other parts of the body.
The exact cause of primary bone cancer is unknown. Genes most likely play a role. Genetics play a major role in most cases.
Factors that may increase your chance of bone cancer include:
There may be more risk factors for specific types of bone cancer.
Symptoms will vary. The size of the tumor and its location will affect the symptoms. General symptoms include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Signs of cancer can be found through:
Your doctor can use images to see where the tumor is and how large it may be. The images can also show if a cancer has spread. Tests may include:
The results from tests will be used for staging. This will outline how far the cancer has spread and how aggressive it is. It will be used to help make a treatment plan.
Treatment depends on the type, stage, and location of the cancer. It also depends on your overall health. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
Surgery is a common option for bone cancer. It is done to remove the cancer and healthy tissue around the area. This will help to make sure all cancer has been removed. Some nearby lymph nodes may also be removed. They will be tested to see if the cancer has spread.
Sometimes large areas of bone will need to be removed. Metal plates or bone grafts may be needed to support the bone after the cancer is removed. Sometimes the entire limb may need to be removed.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be given in many forms, including: pill, injection, and through a tube called a catheter. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body. It may help to treat cancer that has spread. It is not used for all types of bone cancer.
Radiation will kill cancer cells. It can be used to clean area of cancer cells and to shrink tumors. It may be used:
Radiation may be:
Intense chemotherapy may be needed for some cancers. However, it will also destroy the bone marrow. Donated stem cells will help to regrow the marrow.
There is nothing that has been shown to prevent bone cancer.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Canadian Cancer Society
Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society
Bone cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/bone-cancer.html. Accessed October 9, 2017.
Bone cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/bone/bone-fact-sheet. Updated March 13, 2008. Accessed October 9, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.