Two types of bone marrow cancer are most prevalent and deadly in nature. They are osteosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma. If they are identified in an early stage through biopsy, certain procedures are available such as bone marrow transplantation - which is a laborious and expensive process - and high doses of chemotherapy, which can increase life bone marrow cancer life expectancy. Chemotherapy, however, has severe side effects. Some of these are weight loss, nausea, hair loss and low energy levels, also continuing pain, which could lead to prevention of bone movement making walking impossible.
To a large extent, bone marrow cancer life expectancy is dependent on how far the cancer has spread, before it has been detected, and the chances of targeted removal to arrest its spread. It is also affected by the strength of the afflicted person to withstand necessary treatment. Osteosarcoma requires surgical treatment which means amputation of the affected area. Localised osteosarcoma patients, where the cancer is confined to the primary site, have an average survival rate of 85 percent. If it has spread to other parts of the body, then only ten percent will live beyond five years. In the case of Ewing’s sarcoma, if it has not spread elsewhere in the body, 60 percent of such persons have a five year survival period after the diagnosis. If it has spread, then only ten percent may survive for five years. In addition, when the cancer has been detected in a stage described as ‘Regional’, (having spread beyond the primary site) the survival rate drops to 70%, then 31% when it has progressed further.
Developing bone marrow cancer is a major lifetime risk. In studies in the U.S., it has been found that African Americans are a high risk category; there is 30% probability of African-Americans developing cancer in their lifetime, compared to white Americans. Other factors that have a bearing on the person’s survival are the severity of damage to the body, the stage of the cancer, the person’s age and the kind of treatment that is being administered. Provided the cancer is diagnosed early, bone marrow cancer life expectancy is much improved. Survival rates have improved of late with stem cell transplantation, gamma rays that can zero in to the cancer site and cause minimal damage to healthy cells in the area.
With advanced methods of treatment including stem call transplantation, there is evidence that bone marrow cancer life expectancy has elevated over the last decade, from 28.8 to 34.7%. It also found that for multiple myeloma bone cancer, a type of bone marrow cancer that attacks the plasma cells in the bone marrow, the ten year survival rate has increased from 11.1 to 17.4%.
Apart from documentary evidence and the treatments that are advised, care givers cannot stress enough the importance of the attitude of the patient and their determination to overcome this affliction. A positive attitude and the will to live is the best way to increase life expectancy of bone marrow cancer patients.