Bone cancer occurs when bone cells grow uncontrollably. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells do not stop reproducing after they have doubled 50-60 times. These abnormal cells form clumps of tissue, called tumors, inside bones. The first symptom of bone cancer is typically pain in the affected bone(s). Sometimes, a bump either on the bone or in the tissues surrounding the bone may be felt.
Primary bone cancer, or cancer that starts in the bone cells, is rare. Fewer than 2,500 Americans are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year. Children are more likely to develop primary bone cancer than adults.
Most cases of bone cancer occur when cancer from another part of the body, such as breast, prostate, or lung, has spread to bone cells. This is sometimes called metastatic bone cancer or secondary bone cancer.
The most common types of bone cancer are osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, and Ewing's sarcoma. These cancers can be primary or secondary cancer.
Surgery is often the main treatment for bone cancer. In addition to having bone tumors surgically removed, patients may also undergo chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy. In some cases, patients may need to undergo a surgical amputation, but this is performed less often today. Specific treatment options depend on the type of bone cancer, as well as its location, size, and stage.
In general, the prognosis for patients with bone cancer is based on many factors, including the type of cancer, at what stage the cancer was discovered, and where the tumor is located. For instance, if the tumor is small and limited to a localized area, the patient's prognosis is generally better than if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
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