Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

Overview

Cancer that starts in the bone is called primary bone cancer. Cancer develops when normal cells change and grow uncontrollably. Over time, a growth (tumor) may develop, destroying healthy bone tissue and weakening the bone.

Cancer can occur in any bone in the body. Most often, it develops in the long bones of the legs and arms. 

Most primary bone cancers are called sarcomas. They include a number of diseases that form in the:

  • Bone
  • Muscle
  • Fat tissue
  • Fibrous tissue
  • Blood vessels
  • Lymph vessels

Some sarcomas don’t start in the bone (soft-tissue sarcomas).

To make the best decisions about your care, learn about bone cancer, what to expect, and the tools to help you cope.

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Primary and Secondary Cancer

Primary bone cancer starts in the bone.

Secondary bone cancer spreads (metastasizes) to the bone from a different part of the body. For example, if you have breast cancer that spreads to the bone, it’s called breast cancer with bone metastases. The cancer cells in the bone are still breast cancer cells and are treated with therapies for breast cancer.

Bone is a common place for certain cancers (such as breast, lung, and prostate cancer) to spread. Cancer cells can break away from the original tumor and spread to the:

  • Spine
  • Hip
  • Shoulder
  • Thighbone 

Secondary bone cancer is more common than primary bone cancer. 

Cancers that affect the bone, but are not primary bone cancers, are:

  • Multiple myeloma
  • Leukemia 

They develop from cells in bone marrow. Bone marrow is the spongy material inside some bones where blood cells are made.

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Types

The following are types of primary bone cancer. 

Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer. It develops in bone cells that normally make new bone tissue, such as the arms, legs, and hips. Most people diagnosed with this cancer are younger than age 20. 

Chondrosarcoma forms in cartilage. It’s the second most common type of bone cancer. It’s usually found in the pelvis, leg, or arm. It can also occur in the trachea, ribs, and shoulder blades. Most people with this cancer are older than age 40. 

Ewing sarcoma is the third most common primary bone cancer. It can also develop in soft tissues. When it starts in bone, it’s usually in the pelvis, ribs, shoulder blades, arms, or legs. 

Chordoma is a less common primary bone cancer. It typically forms in the lower part of the spine or base of the skull.

Risk Factors

Certain factors increase your risk of getting bone cancer.

Rare genetic disorders are linked to a small number of bone cancers. For example, the risk for chondrosarcoma is higher in people with a disorder that causes bumps on bones (multiple exostoses syndrome).

Previous radiation therapy increases the risk of bone cancer, particularly osteosarcoma. The cancer develops in a bone in the treatment area.

Paget disease of the bone is a noncancerous condition. Abnormal bone tissue forms in one or more bones. The condition mostly affects people older than 50. It rarely causes bone cancer (osteosarcoma).

Having one or more risk factors doesn’t mean you’ll develop the disease. Sometimes, people develop cancer even though they don’t have any risk factors.

Symptoms

As a tumor grows in the bone, it destroys bone tissue and presses on normal tissue. This can cause:

  • Bone pain that worsens with movement
  • Constant bone pain as the tumor grows
  • Swelling in the tumor area
  • Stiff or tender joints
  • Weak bones that may break (fracture)
  • A lump or mass felt under the skin, depending on the tumor location

These symptoms can also be caused by problems other than cancer. For example, bone pain and swelling often result from arthritis or an injury. It’s important that we assess your symptoms to determine the cause.

Diagnosis

To diagnose bone cancer, we learn about your medical history and perform a physical exam.

We may order one or more of the following tests:

  • Bone X-ray
  • Bone scan
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • PET scan

We may remove a small sample of tissue or fluid (biopsy). The sample is evaluated for cancer cells.

If cancer cells are present, we determine whether the cancer is primary or secondary bone cancer. If the cancer started in the bone, we’ll identify the type of bone cancer. 

Other tests may be done to determine whether the cancer has spread to the lungs or other parts of the body.

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Staging Cancer

Bone cancer may be:

  • Localized, or found only in one bone and possibly nearby muscles or tendons.
  • Metastatic, or has spread to other bones or parts of the body.

To stage bone cancer, we consider:

  • How likely the tumor will spread. High-grade tumors grow and spread more rapidly than low-grade tumors.
  • The size of the tumor.
  • If the tumor is found in one spot or several spots in the same bone.
  • If the cancer has already spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body. 

The stages of bone cancer are:

  • Stage I, a small, low-grade tumor that hasn’t spread.
  • Stage II, a high-grade tumor that hasn’t spread.
  • Stage III, a high-grade tumor that hasn’t spread, but is found in more than one spot in the bone.
  • Stage IV, a tumor that has spread to the lungs or to lymph nodes and other organs.

Treatment

After your diagnosis of bone cancer, we can talk about your treatment options and develop a plan that’s right for you. Treatment options for bone cancer include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • A combination of these treatments
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Follow-Up Care

After bone cancer treatment, you’ll have regular checkups so we can:

  • Monitor your recovery.
  • Immediately catch signs that the cancer is returning or getting worse. 

It’s important to attend all follow-up appointments. During these regular visits, we’ll:

  • Perform a physical exam
  • Check for symptoms related to cancer
  • Order bone scans and other tests, if needed
  • Ask about any continuing side effects of treatment

Although many treatment side effects go away once treatment ends, some can last for weeks, months, or even longer.

After extensive surgery, it’s possible you may need:

  • Physical therapy to regain mobility and independence
  • Rehabilitation to help you cope

Part of your survivorship plan is that you:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Do not smoke
  • Get regular exercise
  • Find support from a specially trained counselor or support group
Additional References:

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