Bone cancer Part 1

Bone cancer facts

  • The majority of cancer involving the bones is metastatic disease from other remote cancers. Primary bone cancer is much rarer.
  • Not all bone tumors are cancerous.
  • The most common symptom of bone cancer is pain. The pain is usually mild initially and gradually becomes more intense.
  • Treatment of bone cancer includes a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
  • Treatment is based on the size and location of the cancer and whether or not the cancer has spread from the bone to surrounding tissues.

What Is Bone Cancer?

Cancers can be discovered in bones in a number of different circumstances. When cancer is located in the bones, it is important to differentiate whether this cancer has spread from another site to the bones or whether the cancer originated in the bone tissue itself. This distinction is important not only for the sake of correct terminology, but also to accurately determine which treatment options are appropriate.

There are more than 100 types of cancer, and each cancer type is named for the organ or tissue in which it begins. When cancer cells spread, they may travel via the lymphatic channels to lymph nodes, or they may enter the bloodstream and travel to other organs or locations in the body that are distant from the site of the original, or primary, tumor. It is not unusual for cancers that originate in other parts   of the body to spread to the bones and begin growing there. Certain types of cancers are particularly likely to spread to the bones. Cancers that commonly metastasize, or spread, to the bones include breast cancer, lung cancer, thyroid cancer, prostate cancer, and cancers of the kidney.

It is important to note that when these other types of cancer spread to the bone, they are still named for the tissue or organ where they arose and are not termed “bone” cancer. For example, breast cancer that has spread to the bones is referred to as metastatic breast cancer and not bone cancer.

In contrast to cancers which have spread to the bone, true bone cancers are tumors that arise from the tissues of the bones. These cancers, called primary bone cancers, are quite rare in comparison to cancers that have spread to the bones.

True bone cancer affects over 2,000 people in the United States each year. It is found most often in the bones of the arms and legs, but it can occur in any bone. Children and young   people are more likely than adults to develop bone cancer. The symptoms of bone   cancer tend to develop slowly and depend on the type, location, and size of the tumor. Pain is the most frequent symptom of bone cancer, but sometimes a lump on the bone can be felt through the skin.

What are bones for?

Your body has 206 bones. These bones serve many different functions. First, your bones provide structure to your body and help provide its shape. Muscles attach to the bones and allow you to move. Without the bones, your body would be an unstructured pile of soft tissues and you would be unable to stand, walk, or move.

Second, the bones help to protect the more fragile organs of the body. For example, the bones of the skull protect the brain, the vertebrae of the spine protect the spinal cord, and the ribs protect the heart and lungs.

Third, the bones contain bone marrow, which produces and stores new blood cells.

Finally, the bones help control your body’s collection of various proteins and nutrients including calcium and phosphorus.

What is cancer?

Your body is made up of many small structures called cells. There are many different types of cells that grow to form the different parts of your body. During normal growth and development, these cells continuously grow, divide, and make new cells. This process continues throughout life even after you are no longer growing. The cells continue to divide and make new cells to replace old and damaged cells. In a healthy person, the body is able to control the growth and division of cells according to the needs of the body. Cancer is when this normal control of cells is lost and the cells begin to grow and divide in an uncontrolled manner. The cells also become abnormal and have altered functions in patients with cancer. The cancer cells can become very destructive to the surrounding cells and can invade normal organs and tissues, disrupting their function.

There are many different type of cancer. The cancer is usually named based on the type of cell from which the cancer initially grows. For example, lung cancer is caused by uncontrolled cells that form the lungs and breast cancer by cells that form the breast.

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