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Can bone cancer be cured?

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Have you ever wondered how lucky it is to be healthy? Health is one of the most expensive things in the world and even money sometimes cannot buy it. While it is true that most healthy people have a great life, some people who have already tried their best to lead a healthy life, might get challenged with life itself. Cancer, a disease that is terrifying, can still affect those who used to be healthy before. In this DoctorOnCall’s article, we will learn more about bone cancer.

Bone cancer is an uncommon cancer which developed from the bone Bone cancer, similar to many cancer affecting other parts of the body, begins when the cells grow uncontrollably. Bone cancer can affect any of the 200 bones in a human body. It is more common for bone cancer to affect large bones such as the arm and leg. Bone cancers affect the youth population more compared to older adults.

Before we go further on this topic, knowing the basics about bone can help us understand more about bone cancer. Bone, as we all might know, is a strong structure supporting the framework of the body. The outer layer of bones is compacted covering the lighter spongy bone within the bone. Bones are covered with periosteum, a fibrous layer. Certain bones have a space known as medullary cavity and the medullary cavity is lined by tissue called endosteum. In this specific space, you can find the bone marrow. Certain bone marrow only contain fatty tissue while others contain cells responsible for blood formation such as the red and white blood cells with blood platelets. Do you know that bone started as a soft flexible tissue? This is known as cartilage. As time passes by, the cartilage receives calcium to form a strong bone. Cartilage typically stays at the edge of the bone as cushions between bones.

It is unlikely for bone cancer, specifically primary bone cancer to occur. Primary bone cancers are cancers that initially start within the bone. These are the common types of primary bone cancer:

  • Osteosarcoma- cancer that affects the ends of large bones such as arm, legs and hip bone (pelvis)
  • Ewing’s sarcoma- typically affect those below the age of 30, commonly affect bones of the spines, long leg bone, shoulder blades or ribs
  • Chondrosarcoma- begins in the cartilage, usually affecting older adults
  • Chordoma- occur at bottom of spine or base of skulls, typically adult aged 30 and above

There are cancers that develop in bones but not originate from the bone cells. These cancers affect cells in the bone marrow such as blood and immune cells. These do not belong to primary bone cancer. Examples of common ones are multiple myeloma, leukaemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma of bone.

Secondary bone cancer describes cancer from other parts of the body but spread to the bones. This kind of cancer is more common compared to primary bone cancer. Common ones include cancers affecting the lung, breast, thyroid, kidney and prostate. Secondary bone cancers typically located in the thigh bone, pelvis, spine or shoulder.

Most bone cancers occur without obvious cause. Despite that, there are identified risks that make a person susceptible to develop this condition. This includes age, genetic inheritances, previous exposure to radiotherapy and non-cancerous bone diseases such as Paget’s disease.

The most significant symptoms of a bone tumour is pain in the area where the tumour is located. Pain in general feels as ache and dull. Pain usually gets worse at night or after physical activity. Swelling over the bone may be seen. Ironically, many people with bone cancer do not experience symptoms but notice painless mass. Bone cancer can cause weak bone, making it easily fractured especially after a trauma. Patients might have problems moving around. Patients might also have fever and unexplained weight loss.

Due to the fact that bone cancer can be a great concern, patients are advised to get medical advice when they have symptoms associated with bone cancer. Furthermore, the fact that bone cancer are yet to be known the exact causes, specific interventions may be difficult to be applied. Thus, the best way to reduce the risk of bone cancer in adults is to make lifestyle changes towards a healthier life such as maintaining a healthy weight and smoking cessation.

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For patients affected by bone cancer, it can be concerning to know if it can be cured. This is a difficult question as the outcome depends on the type of bone cancer. It also depends on the stage and the grade of the bone cancer. Generally speaking, bone cancer can be cured when the cancer does not spread to other parts of the body. In fact, it can be successfully treated without chances of returning. This is why it is important to get bone cancer detected early so that prompt treatment can be provided.