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Osteosarcoma (osteogenic sarcoma): Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

  • Posted on- Oct 15, 2015
  • 771 Views

Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer that occurs in children, teenagers and younger adults. Other forms of cancer spread to parts of the skeleton, but osteosarcoma is one of the few that actually begin in bones and sometimes spread usually to the lungs or other bones. Any bone is susceptible to osteosarcoma, but the most common sites are the arms or legs, particularly around the knee joint.

Because osteosarcoma usually develops from the cells that make growing bone, it most commonly affects teens who have a growth spurt. Boys are more prone to this cancer than girls.

Symptoms related to osteosarcoma

The symptoms of osteosarcoma depend on the bone in which the tumour developed. Children who have osteosarcoma may show the following signs and symptoms:


Tests and diagnosis of osteosarcoma

When your child has shown signs and symptoms of osteosarcoma, the doctor will perform a full body check-up along with certain tests and procedures, including:
  • X-ray: X-ray creates a picture of the structures inside of the body using a small amount of radiation. The doctor will take an x-ray of the area where there is a lump or swelling.
  • CT scan: A CT scan creates a three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body with the help of an X-ray machine. It is basically used to measure the tumour’s size.
  • MRI: MRI uses magnetic fields to produce detailed images of the body. It is another way to produce detailed images of the body. This imaging test gives exact pictures of the tumour and the surrounding healthy tissue.
  • PET scan: PET scan creates pictures of organs and tissues inside the body.
  • Bone scan: A bone scan uses a radioactive tracer to look at the inside of the bones.
  • Angiogram: An angiogram is a way for doctors to see inside the arteries. It helps the surgeon to plan surgery.
  • Biopsy: A biopsy is the removal of a small amount of tissue for examination under a microscope. A doctor who specializes in bone tumours should perform the biopsy, which typically involves surgery, or sometimes, a needle biopsy.

Treatment options for osteosarcoma

Treatment options for osteosarcoma depend on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, possible side effects, the child’s overall health, and the child’s and family’s preferences. The most common treatments are:
  • Surgery: A surgery is the removal of the tumour and some surrounding tissue during an operation. It usually involves amputation or limb-salvage surgery. At present, most teens with osteosarcoma involving an arm or leg can be treated with limb-salvage surgery instead of amputation.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is normally administered through a vein or given orally before or after surgery. It uses drugs to destroy cancer cells, by stopping the cancer cells’ ability to grow and divide.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy involves the use of high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. It is normally given externally. Radiation therapy for osteosarcoma is uncommon and is only used when trying to avoid amputating an arm or leg.

Osteosarcoma that has spread cannot always be treated as successfully. Also, a child whose osteosarcoma is in an arm or leg generally has a better prognosis than one whose disease involves the ribs, shoulder blades, spine, or pelvic bones. Survival rates are high for osteosarcoma that hasn't spread beyond the tumour.