Bone Tumors develop when there is an uncontrollable division of the cells that form a mass of tissue. Most of these tumors are benign, meaning they are not cancer and will not spread over other tissues or cells. But these are still a cause for concern since they can make the bones weak and increase the risk of fractures and other bone-related problems. Bone cancer happens when the tumors destroy normal tissues of the bone and spread to other parts of the body in a process called metastasis.
Benign Bone Tumors (Non Cancerous)
These are more common than cancerous bone tumors. Benign bone tumors come in several types including:
This is the most common type of bone tumors, usually affecting shoulder and knee joints of people under the age of 20.
- Giant cell tumor (affects the leg bones)
- Osteoid osteoma (develops in the long bones)
- Osteoblastoma (in the spine and long bones)
- Echondroma (in the bones of feet and hands)
Metastatic cancer come from other parts of the body that have cancer. For instance, a person suffering from lung cancer may have metastasis to the bone. The cancer will not be considered bone cancer because the primary tumors are in the lungs. Cancers that usually spread to the bone are breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer.
Primary Bone Cancer
Less common than metastatic cancer, primary bone cancer forms primarily in the bone. The cause of this cancer is not known but some experts point out following possible contributors:
- genetic factors
- radiation therapy
- high dose cancer drugs
Common types of primary bone cancer are:
This begins in the bone cells and affects the knee and upper arm. The risk is high among teens and young adults.
- Ewing's Sarcoma
This affects the ribs, pelvis, legs, and upper arms. The risk is also high in younger people.
This affects the hip, pelvis, leg, arm, and shoulder. The risk is high for people between 40 and 70 years old
Symptoms of Bone Tumors
Bone tumors do not exhibit any symptom. Usually, this is only found accidentally when a doctor looks at an X-ray for another problems like a sprain.
- dull and achy pain
If there are any symptoms, it would have to be dull and achy pain in the area of the tumor, which gets worse when people engage in physical activity. This also awakens people in the middle of the night
Other symptoms are:
- night sweats
- unusual swelling around the bone
Treatment of Bone Tumors
Cancerous bone tumors need to be treated immediately to enhance survival and recovery. Treatment would depend on the cancer stage and how far it has spread. Treatment for bone cancer includes:
- radiation therapy
- limb salvage surgery
- systemic chemotherapy
Benign tumors are monitored and treated with medication. If these are likely to spread or become malignant, the doctor may order for their removal.