Cells can form a mass or lump of tissue when they divide abnormally and uncontrollably. This lump is known as a tumor and if it grows on or in a bone it is called a bone tumor. Also, as the tumor grows, abnormal tissue has the potential to displace healthy tissue.
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What Exactly are Bone Tumors?
Bone tumors form when cells within a bone divide uncontrollably, resulting in the formation of a lump or mass of abnormal tissue. Most bone tumors are harmless and benign tumors are rarely fatal and, in most cases, do not spread to other parts of the body. Treatment options vary depending on the type of tumor, ranging from simple observation to surgery to remove the tumor. Some bone tumors are cancerous. Malignant bone tumors have the ability to metastasize or spread cancer cells throughout the body. Treatment for malignant tumors almost always includes a combination of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
Tumors are Classified as Benign or Malignant
Benign tumors do not cause cancer. While benign bone tumors are unlikely to be fatal, they are still abnormal cells that may require treatment. Benign tumors can grow and compress healthy bone tissue, causing future problems. Cancerous tumors are malignant tumors and can spread cancer throughout the body.
A growing bone tumor, even if it is benign, destroys healthy tissue and weakens the bone, making it more brittle. When a bone tumor becomes cancerous, it is classified as either primary or secondary bone cancer.
- A bone is where primary bone cancer first originates.
- Secondary bone cancer begins elsewhere in the body and then spreads to the bone.
- Secondary bone cancer is often referred to as a metastatic bone disease.
- Cancers that begin elsewhere and frequently spread to bone include kidney cancer.
Bone Cancer (Primary)
Multiple Myeloma. The most typical primary bone cancer is multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma is a bone marrow tumor, which is the soft tissue in the center of many bones that produces blood cells. This cancer has the potential to affect any bone.
Each year, approximately seven people per 100,000 are diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Each year, more than 130,000 people are diagnosed with this type of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. The majority of cases are seen in patients aged 50 to 70. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and, on rare occasions, surgery are used to treat multiple myeloma.
Osteosarcoma. The second most common primary bone cancer is osteosarcoma. It affects two to five people per million each year, with teenagers and children being the most affected. The majority of tumors form around the knee in either the femur (thighbone) or the tibia (shinbone). Also, the hip and shoulder are two other common locations. Therefore, to treat this disease, chemotherapy and surgery are commonly used.
Sarcoma of Ewing. Patients with Ewing’s sarcoma are typically between the ages of 5 and 20. The most often afflicted places are the pelvis, upper arm, and ribs, upper and lower leg. Thus, to treat this disease, chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy are commonly used to treat Ewing’s sarcoma.
Chondrosarcoma. Chondrosarcoma is a cancerous tumor made up of cartilage-producing cells. People between the ages of 40 and 70 can be affected by this disease. In addition, the majority of cases occur in the hip, pelvis, or shoulder area. Furthermore, to treat this disease, doctors use surgery to remove the tumors.
Benign bone tumors are classified into several types
Benign tumors outnumber malignant tumors. Osteochondromas are the most typical kind of harmless bone tumor. About 35 to 40 percent of harmless bone tumors are of this sort. Adolescents and teenagers are the most vulnerable to osteochondromas. The tumors form near the ends of long bones that are actively growing, such as the arm or leg bones. Also, these tumors typically affect the lower thighbone (femur), the upper end of the lower leg bone (tibia), and the upper end of the upper arm bone (humerus). Moreover, these tumors are bone and cartilage in nature. Osteochondromas were thought to be a type of growth abnormality. A child may develop just one osteochondroma or several.
Unicameral non ossifying fibroma
A unicameral non ossifying fibroma is a simple solitary bone cyst. It is the only true bone cyst. It is most commonly found in children and adolescents and is usually found in the leg.
Tumors with giant cells
Giant cell tumors spread quickly. They happen to adults. They are found at the rounded end of the bone rather than in the growth plate. These are extremely rare tumors.
Enchondromas are cartilage cysts that develop within the bone marrow. When they occur, they begin in childhood and continue into adulthood. They are frequently associated with Ollier’s and Mafucci’s syndromes. Enchondromas can develop in the hands and feet, as well as the arm and thigh long bones.
A gene mutation that results in fibrous dysplasia makes bones more brittle and prone to fracture.
Bone cyst aneurysmal
An aneurysmal bone cyst is a blood vessel abnormality that begins in the bone marrow. It can spread quickly and be especially damaging because it affects growth plates.
Different Types of Malignant Bone Tumors
Numerous cancers can also result in malignant bone tumors. The term “primary bone cancer” refers to cancer that began in the bones. Primary bone cancer accounts for less than 1% of all cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Osteosarcoma, the Ewing sarcoma family of tumors, and chondrosarcoma are the three most common types of primary bone cancers.
The second most common type of bone cancer is osteosarcoma, which mostly affects children and adolescents. This usually manifests itself around the hip, shoulder, or knee. This tumor grows quickly and spreads to other parts of the body. The areas where the bones are most actively growing (growth plates), the lower end of the thighbone, and the upper end of the lower leg bone are the most common sites for this tumor to spread. Osteosarcoma is also known as osteogenic sarcoma at times. Here’s how it’s treated and what the future holds for people with osteosarcoma.
Tumors in the Ewing sarcoma family (ESFTs)
The Ewing sarcoma family of tumors (ESFTs) primarily affects adolescents and young adults, but they can also affect children as young as five years old. This type of bone cancer most commonly affects the legs (long bones), pelvis, backbone, ribs, upper arms, and skull. It starts in the bone cavities, where bone marrow is produced (the medullary cavities). ESFTs can grow in soft tissue as well as bone, including fat, muscle, and blood vessels. According to the NC, African-American children are extremely unlikely to develop ESFTs. Males are more likely than females to develop ESFTs. ESFTs are rapidly growing and spreading.
Compared to other age groups, middle-aged and older persons are more prone to develop chondrosarcoma. Typically, the hips, shoulders, and pelvis are where this form of bone cancer starts.
Secondary bone cancer
The term “secondary bone cancer” refers to cancer that began elsewhere in the body and then spread to the bone. It usually affects elderly people. The types of cancer that are most likely to spread to your child’s bones are as follows:
- Prostate; lung (particularly osteosarcoma).
- the thyroid gland
- Myeloma multiplex.
Multiple myeloma is the most common type of secondary bone cancer. This bone cancer manifests as bone marrow tumors. Older individuals have a higher incidence of multiple myeloma.
What Factors Contribute to Bone Tumors?
There are no known causes of bone tumors. Genetics, radiation treatment, and bone injuries are all possible causes. Radiation therapy (particularly high doses of radiation) and other anticancer drugs have been linked to osteosarcoma, particularly in children. However, no single cause has been identified. Tumors frequently appear when parts of the body are rapidly growing. People who have had metal implants used to repair bone fractures are more likely to develop osteosarcoma later in life.
Recognizing Potential Symptoms of Bone Tumors
A discomfort in the damaged bone that is dull in nature is the most typical sign of bone cancer. The pain begins as intermittent and progresses to severe and constant. If the discomfort is bad enough, you could wake up during the night. When a person has an undiscovered bone tumor, what appears to be a minor injury can break the already weakened bone, causing severe pain. This is referred to as a pathologic fracture. Swelling at the site of the tumor is not uncommon.
- Alternatively, your child may not feel any pain, but you will notice a new mass of tissue on some part of his or her body. Tumors can also cause night sweats, fevers, or a combination of the two.
- People with benign tumors may not experience any symptoms. The tumor may not be discovered until an imaging scan is performed in conjunction with other medical tests.
- If a benign bone tumor, such as an osteochondroma, does not interfere with your child’s daily function and movement, it may not require treatment.
Identifying Bone Tumors
Fractures, infections, and other conditions can all look like tumors. Your doctor will order and perform a number of tests to determine whether a bone tumor is present. First, your doctor will perform a physical exam, focusing on the suspected tumor’s location. In addition, the doctor will examine your child’s bones for tenderness and measure certain ranges of motion.
Finally, your doctor will also learn as much as possible about your family’s medical history as this information can lead to better health care for your child. We are here to help and when it comes to children and their health, we are specialists in this area. Call us for an appointment today.
Call 214-556-0590 to make an appointment.
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