Know More About Osteosarcoma

It refers to the condition where the tumor begins in the cells in the bones. More commonly, it occurs in young adults and teenagers. It happens more in long bones like arms and legs. It is a rare situation that it will originate in the soft tissue surrounding the bone. The term osteosarcoma is composed of two words: osteo and sarcoma. ‘Osteo’ refers to bones, while ‘sarcoma’ refers to the cancer cells developing in cartilage, bone, or muscle. After brain tumors and lymphomas, osteosarcoma is adolescents’ most commonly occurring cancer.

It can either occur in metaphyses (ends of bones) or the area around the knee (during the growing years). Any bones among the femur, tibia, or humerus can be affected. The less common body parts likely to be affected are the skull, pelvis, and jaw. Cancer occurs when the cells start forming even when they are not needed. This unwanted and uncontrollable growth of cells causes the formation of masses or lumps in the affected area.

Causes of osteosarcoma

  • The primary reason remains the mutations in the cell’s DNA that instruct it to divide and grow. The tumor cells attack the healthy tissues and destroy them. Also, the cancer cells hold the potential to spread to other parts of the body. Further, not every lump is cancerous. It is only determined by the correct diagnosis techniques if the cells are cancerous.
  • If the person is suffering from Paget’s disease, Bloom syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Diamond-Blackfan anemia, Rothmund-Thomson syndrome, Werner syndrome, or hereditary retinoblastoma, the chances of getting osteosarcoma are increased.
  • If the person has been administered alkylating agents or anti-cancer drugs, is undergoing radiation therapy, or has modifications in the RB1 gene, the risk of getting hit with osteosarcoma is enhanced.
  • Bone infarction is a condition where the blood supply is reduced to the bone tissues. It leads to cell destruction.

Types of osteosarcoma

Intramedullary osteosarcoma

It is the most common type of osteosarcoma detected in 80% of the cases. These cancer cells start originating in the medullary cavity of a long bone, like the femur. In addition, there are several subtypes of intramedullary osteosarcoma. The classification is based on the type of cells that constitute the tumor. Its subtypes include osteoblastic, epithelioid, fibroblastic, small-cell, and chondroblasts.

Juxtacortical osteosarcoma

This type is the second most common type of osteosarcoma and is experienced by 10 to 15% of people. The osteosarcomas build on the outer surface of the bones or the periosteum. The periosteum is a dense layer of connective tissue that covers the bones.

Extraskeletal osteosarcoma

It is rarely occurring osteosarcoma that arises in soft tissues not attached to the bone. Sometimes, they may also form at the site undergoing radiation therapy treatment.

Signs and Symptoms

  • The patient may experience bone pain or tenderness along with swelling and redness at the tumor site
  • There could be limping when the legs are affected or strain on the arms while lifting. In case the joints are affected, body movement can become limited.
  • A tumor or mass of cells can be felt during a physical examination by the doctor.
  • There could be unexplained fever or cases of the broken bone.

Diagnosis of osteosarcoma

The methods of diagnosis are many and are done to confirm if the cells growing are cancerous or not.

Medical history and physical examination

The doctor performs the patient’s physical examination, where he looks for possible selling or lumps that could be felt warm. Family history along with the medical history is taken to devise correct treatment strategies.

Imaging Procedures

These include processes like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scan, and X-rays. With such techniques, the detection of tumors can be easy. These tests give the doctor detailed images of the body organs and their functioning.

Blood tests

The blood tests help determine the number of blood cells in the body. The levels help analyze the functioning of the major organs like kidneys and liver.


Biopsy refers to the collection of a tissue sample from the affected area. It is then analyzed under the microscope at a laboratory where the technician observes the functioning of cells. It helps to know if the tumor is cancerous.

ET Scan and Bone Scan

The process of a bone scan involves injecting a radioactive dye into the body and looking for any abnormalities in the bone. ET Scan works with the help of a glucose tracer. It reflects which part of the body requires high glucose intake. The cancer cell usually has a high glucose intake

What are the possible side effects of these treatments?

The side effects of bone cancer treatment can be many. Some of them have been stated below

  • Health issues related to the kidney, heart, ears, or lungs.
  • Issues related to fertility
  • Hormonal issues leading to changes in mood and feelings
  • Difficulty in learning, thinking, and maintaining good memory
  • neurological problems
  • Chances of development of another type of cancer

Targeted drug therapy may lead to

  • Changes in hair color
  • Nail changes
  • Dry skin and rashes
  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Wound healing and blood clotting

Rotationplasty can cause

  • Infections
  • Blood clots
  • Easy bleeding and bruising
  • Issues with blood supply

What are the treatments for osteosarcoma?

The various treatments for osteosarcoma are:


The process of surgery involves the removal of the tumor from the affected area. The surgeon will remove the tissue along with some surrounding healthy tissues. Usually, the surgery is done without any amputation if the tumor has not spread to other parts of the body. This is termed limb salvage surgery.
Often, an artificial bone is used to replace the affected bone removed. It can involve amputating a certain area or an entire leg or arm.

Radiation therapy and chemotherapy

These two treatments are used widely to treat cancer. Radiation therapy involves using certain beams to target the cancer cells. The radiations heat the cells and burn them up. Chemotherapy, on the other hand, involves using a combination of drugs and medications that destroys the cancer cells in the body.

Targeted drug therapy

This therapy involves inhibiting the action of certain proteins that the cancer cells require to grow. It involves using a mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitors, kinase inhibitor therapy, and monoclonal antibody therapy.


This technique is used most commonly for treating distal femur tumors. This includes the area just above the knee where the leg is partially amputated. The tumor present in the affected area is removed, and the lower leg is rotated at an angle of 180 degrees.
Apart from this, amputation is also done in rare situations where the limb is removed surgically, and an artificial one is placed. Cryosurgery can also be used where the cancer cells are frozen to an extreme temperature through liquid nitrogen and destroyed.

Why should you opt for Ayurveda?

Being the oldest form of medicine, this system believes in the traditional and effective methods of treating the disease from the core. It aims at cleansing, detoxifying, and strengthening the human immune system. It helps reclaim health by incorporating the treatments like massage therapy, cupping therapy, Abhingya, Basti, exercises, Yoga, home remedies, and good sleep patterns. Herbal and chemical-free medications are provided to ensure relief from symptoms and pain. The healing process takes place gradually and works on the root cause of the diseases.

Ayurveda includes a blend of good routines, natural or home remedies, a healthy lifestyle, detoxifying therapy, and a proper diet. It uses the eight methods of determining diagnosis techniques, cure, and other aspects. These are

  • Shabda (voice)
  • Jiva (tongue)
  • Mutra (urine)
  • Mala (stool)
  • Drik (eyes)
  • Aakriti (body build)
  • Naadi (pulse)
  • Sparsh (skin)

The field of Ayurveda ensures a balance between the doshas and the promotion of optimum health. It works on the principle of permanent cure and prevents the future recurrence of the disease. Further, the Ayurvedic approach to dealing with conditions offers no side effects.