Bone Cancer Awareness
With Sarcoma and Bone Cancer Awareness Month being honored in July, it’s important to know that many types of cancer can start in the bones, making bone cancer one that Comprehensive Cancer Centers encourages everyone should take seriously, especially considering most people with bone cancers do not have any apparent risk factors.
The most common types of bone cancer include osteosarcoma and Ewing tumors and occur most often in children and teens. Tumors for these cancers include chondrosarcoma, malignant fibrous histiocytoma, fibrosarcoma, giant cell tumor, and chordoma.
Less Common Yet Dangerous Forms of Bone Cancer
While they don’t appear as often as osteosarcoma and Ewing tumors there are many additional bone cancers. Some, especially osteosarcomas, appear to be hereditary and caused by mutations in certain genes.
Multiple exostoses (sometimes called multiple osteochondromas) syndrome is an inherited condition that causes many bumps on a person’s bones. These bumps are made mostly of cartilage. They can be painful and deform and/or fracture bones. This disorder is caused by a mutation in any one of the 3 genes EXT1, EXT2, or EXT3. Patients with this condition have an increased risk of chondrosarcoma.
An enchondroma is a benign cartilage tumor that grows into the bone. People who get many of these tumors have a condition called multiple enchondromatosis. They have an increased risk of developing chondrosarcomas.
Paget disease is a benign, but pre-cancerous, condition that affects one or more bones. It results in the formation of abnormal bone tissue and occurs mostly in people older than 50. Affected bones are heavy, thick, and brittle. They are weaker than normal bones and more likely to fracture (break). Cancer (usually osteosarcoma) develops in about 1% of those with Paget disease, usually when many bones are affected.
How Can You Tell if May Have Bone Cancer?
For the team at Comprehensive Cancer, detecting and treating cancers like bone cancer at an early stage leads to more successful treatment outcomes. Finding cancers isn’t always easy, but with vigilance, early detection is possible. For sarcoma and bone cancer, people may find the following symptoms as indicators for potential presence of the disease:
- Pain/Weakness – Pain in an affected bone is the most common sign of bone cancer. At first, the pain is not constant. It may be worse at night or when the bone is used, for instance, leg pain when walking. As the cancer grows, the pain will be there all the time, and get worse with activity. Cancer in the bones of the spine can press on nerves, causing numbness and tingling or even weakness.
- Swelling – Swelling in an area of the pain may not occur until weeks later after a trauma. It might be possible to feel a lump or mass depending on where the tumor is. Cancers in the bones of the neck may also cause a lump in the back of the throat that can lead to trouble swallowing or make it hard to breathe.
- Fractures -Bone cancer can weaken the bone, but most of the time the bones do not fracture or break. People with a fracture next to or through a bone tumor usually describe sudden severe pain in a bone that had been sore for a few months.
- Unexplained Weight Loss/Fatigue – Bone cancer can cause weight loss and fatigue. If the cancer spreads to internal organs it may cause other symptoms, too. And if bone cancer spreads to the lungs, it can cause trouble breathing.
Many people ask Comprehensive if injury to a bone can cause cancer. This has never been proven. Most doctors believe that injuries did not cause the cancer, but rather the cancer caused people to recall past incidents or the injuries that drew attention to that bone. In all cases, Comprehensive Cancer encourages people to have a physician take a closer look if any problems with bones persist or worsen.
Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help
Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide a variety of treatment options for bone cancer, along with world-class clinical research and immunotherapy. To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.
The content in this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.