Know More About Bone Cancer
Bone cancer affects the long bones that are present in the arms or the legs. Bone cancer is not a common occurrence. In fact, non-cancerous bone tumors are more common than cancerous ones. Some categories of bone cancer affect children, while others affect adults. The cells present in the bone start dividing rapidly, and the body loses control over it. This accumulation of the cells causes the formation of masses or lumps in the affected area.
The cancerous formation can destroy the normal cells and weaken the functioning of the bone. The doctor decides the treatment methods based on the tumor’s nature and the stage it has reached. The treatment becomes quite difficult and complicated at an advanced stage.
Causes of bone cancer
There is not much clarity on the reasons that lead to the development of bone cancer in the body. Some of the common causes other than bone cell proliferation are:
- Often, people dealing with genetic conditions like Li-Fraumeni syndrome or hereditary retinoblastoma are at a higher risk of developing bone cancer.
- Paget’s disease of bone increases the chances of bone cancer. It is usually seen to be occurring in older adults.
- If the person has been undertaking a radiation treatment, the chances of developing another type of cancer increase.
Types of bone cancer
Bone cancer is divided into two types: primary bone cancer and metastatic bone cancer.
The primary bone cancers are generally rare ones. They occur in bone and can spread to other parts of the body as well. These are a subtype of a category called sarcomas. Sarcomas can originate in muscles, blood vessels, connective tissues, bone, or other body parts.
Another type of bone cancer is metastatic bone cancer. This type of cancer spreads to other parts of the body. It could be major organs like the lungs.
What are the types of primary bone cancer?
Osteogenic sarcoma or osteosarcoma occurs in bone cells lining the arms, pelvis, or legs. The frequency of its occurrence is more in males than females and is observed between the age group 10 and 30. Based on the appearance of cells at the microscopic level, osteogenic sarcoma has been divided into three sub-types as well. These are:
This type of tumor forms gradually. The cells appear normal, and only a few can be seen proliferating.
The growth of cancer cells under this type is faster than the low-grade ones.
The division of cells is faster here, and they are seen dividing easily in this phase under the microscope. These fast-moving cells are found mainly in teenagers and children.
Chondrosarcoma is the second most common form of bone cancer and begins in the cartilage cells. The rate of occurrence is higher in areas like the pelvis, legs, and arms, while it is lowest in places like the larynx, chest, skull, ribs, shoulder, and trachea. The chances of its development grow with increasing age.
Starting in the bones, the Ewing tumor can also build in other muscles or tissues. The occurrence is more common in teenagers and children.
Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma and Fibrosarcoma
This type of bone cancer affects the soft tissues like muscles, tendons, or ligaments. It also holds the possibility of occurring in older adults. The survival rates in malignant fibrous histiocytoma are low when cancer has reached an advanced stage.
Giant cell tumors of the bone
Giant cell tumors of bone can be malignant or benign. The malignant form is less common than the benign. The major areas affected are arm or leg bones, and in rare cases, the arms and legs are affected. They bear the chance of recurring even after the treatment.
Chordoma usually occurs at the base of the skull and in the sacral region, that is, the lower back. This type of cancer grows slowly and most commonly occurs in people aged 30 and above.
The other types of bone cancer include:
It originates in the lymph cells. They are a part of the immune system.
It begins in the bone marrow, which refers to a soft tissue present in the bones.
It is a general term for cancer occurring in the blood cells. The most commonly affected cells are the white blood cells.
Signs and Symptoms
The common symptoms experienced by patients suffering from bone cancer are:
- Tiredness and unwanted weight loss
- Swelling in the affected area along with tenderness
- Bone pain and limping
- Weak bones. This may lead to fractures.
- Night sweats
- Symptoms get worse with increased activity
- The affected area becomes dull or achy
Bone cancer is diagnosed through various methods starting with a physical examination and medical history of the patient. The medical and family history becomes important to trace the right path for treatment.
The imaging tests like X-Rays, PET scans, MRI scans, and CT scans help obtain detailed images of the organs and determine their functioning levels. A bone scan can also be done that involves injecting a radioactive dye into the body that reaches the affected area and the images are taken by the scanner.
A major confirmatory test is biopsy where the sample of affected area is taken by the specialists to analyze for cancerous conditions. It also helps to know the speed of growth that the cancer cells are undergoing. Here, the doctor may insert a needle that reaches the tumor and picks up a few tumor cells. In the cases of surgical biopsy, an incision can be made that helps surgeon remove a portion of the tumor or the entire tumor itself.
After effects of the treatment
The major complications that might be observed after a limb salvage surgery include allograft fracture, prosthesis fracture, device failure, prosthesis loosening, and others.
After amputation, the patient may face wound infection easily and low wound healing. The person can experience deep vein thrombosis, pneumonia, heart problems, and muscle weakness.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy cause tiredness, skin changes, pain, issues with kidney working, weight changes, hair loss issues, dry mouth, and others.
What treatments are available for bone cancer?
Following treatments are considered based on the type of tumor, intensity of division, and area of infection.
Amputation refers to replacing the patient’s original leg with an artificial limb. This is done when the tumor cells spread to nearby muscles and blood vessels.
Limb salvage surgery
This surgery involves removal of the part of the bone that has been affected with the tumor cells. The surrounding tissues, muscles, and tendons are not removed. The doctor puts a metallic implant in place of the part removed.
The treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted drug therapy are usd to inhibit the action of cancer cells or to kill them.
Chemotherapy uses chemicals, radiotherapy involves strong beams or radiations while the targetd drug therapy involves the use of various proteins to block the working of cancer cells.
Why should you consider Ayurveda?
The Ayurvedic system of medicine involves using the natural healing methods that possess effective qualities for treating the disease being faced. In the cases of bone cancer, herbs like curcumin and turmeric are used to promote the growth of new healthy bone cells. Both the herbs possess the anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-cancerous properties.
Apart from this, ginger extract is known to lower the levels of pain and inflammation. Amla is known to be beneficial for cancer patients as the compounds present in it are responsible for extracting the free radicals present in the body. Another natural ingredient called Chitrak, also falling under the category of a ‘rasayan’, has immunomodulatory features that helps it to work at cellular levels.
The Ayurvedic herbs are responsible for stimulating the self-healing properties of the human body. It incorporates a lot of therapies and medicinal properties that lead to reduction in discomfort and pain.