Bone Cancer is an uncommon type of cancer that occurs when malignant cancer cells develop and spread within the bones. According to a research conducted by the Mayo Clinic in 2009, “Bone cancer can occur in any bone in the body, but most commonly affects the long bones that make up the arms and legs”.
Although bone cancer can be a fatal disease, a full recovery can be expectedif it is diagnosed at an early stage. However, the type of treatment for bone cancer depends upon the type, size, location, stage and grade of the bone cancer. Also, the patient's age and his general health condition are also taken into account for determining the type of treatment for bone cancer.
Given the advancements in medical research and technology, the survival rate for bone cancer patients in recent times have witnessed a tremendous rise.. The Cancer Treatment Centres of America (CTCA) published the following pre-eminent types of treatment for bone cancer:
- Surgery: Surgery is the most recommended type of treatment for bone cancer. Generally, it is done to remove the entire tumour and some of the surrounding healthy tissue. In some advanced cases, where the entire bone is inflicted by the cancer,, surgeons may have to remove the entire bone and replace it with another bone in the body or with a prosthetic limb.
- Cryosurgery: This type of treatment of bone cancer is used in conjunction with normal surgery. Cryosurgery utilises liquid nitrogen to completely eradicate the cancer by freezing and destroying the cancerous cells. Bone grafts, screws and rods are used to fill the lost bone space.
- Chemotherapy: Patients with advanced bone cancer are usually subjected to chemotherapy. This powerful medication is used to destroy the cancerous cells and prevent them from proliferating. Chemotherapy is used before surgery to shrink the size of the tumour thereby making the surgery less invasive. Hair loss, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and loss of appetite are some of the common side effects of chemotherapy.
- Radiation Therapy: The National Cancer Institute (NCI), a part of U.S National Institutes of Health, reveals that radiation therapy involves the utilisation of high energy x-rays to completely destroy the cancerous cells; it is normally used in combination with surgery. Radiation therapy can sometimes be used to provide pain relief by shrinking the size of existing tumours, especially for patients who cannot be treated surgically. Skin burn, nausea, fatigue and loss of appetite are some of the side effects of radiation therapy.
- Brachytherapy: Brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy, where radiation is directly passed through the infected tumour. This type of treatment for bone cancer is generally used in conjunction with external beam radiation therapy.
Even after the treatment for bone cancer, patients are advised to consult their healthcare professionals regularly and inform them about any unusual symptoms that may occur. The follow-up usually varies from one patient to another, depending upon the type and stage of the bone cancer. Periodical check-ups are crucial to realise health issues in their early stages.