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A bone sarcoma is a kind of tumour—a growth of abnormal cells in the bones. When the tumour grows out of control and destroys nearby tissue or spreads to other parts of the body, it's called malignant. That means it's a type of cancer.
Sarcoma is another name for a malignant bone tumour.
Bone cancer can spread to other parts of the body, like the lungs or lymph nodes.
The most common types of bone sarcomas in children include:
This tumour is also common in young adults. It often appears in the wider ends of bones, in the knee, shoulder, and sometimes the pelvis.
This can be in the bone shaft (the middle of bones), mainly near the knee, pelvis, and upper arm.
Your child may feel pain near the tumour.
You may feel swelling or a lump over the bone. If the tumour is near a shoulder, hip, or knee joint, your child may not be able to move the arm or leg freely.
Bone tumours can weaken bones. Sometimes bones with tumours can break.
The doctor will ask about your child's symptoms and past health. He or she will also examine your child. If the doctor can feel a bone tumour or if your child has other symptoms, your child will get some tests. The tests can find out if it's cancer. They can also help the doctor figure out the best treatment for the tumour.
The doctor may also find a tumour when taking X-rays or images for another problem.
The doctor may talk to you about what "stage" your child's cancer is. The stage refers to how large the tumour is and how far it has spread. It also includes the tumour grade, which describes what the cancer cells look like and how likely they are to grow and spread.
These can help the doctor find out what type of treatment your child may need. And it may help to find a clinical trial that has treatments for your child's type of cancer.
Treatment for bone cancer is based on the stage of the bone cancer and other things, such as your child's overall health. The main treatments include:
Your child may need surgery to remove cancer from the bone or to remove part of the bone. A bone graft or metal part may be used to replace the bone that was removed. If cancer is found in an arm or a leg, the limb can usually be saved.
These medicines kill fast-growing cells, including cancer cells and some normal cells.
This uses high-dose X-rays to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumours. It may be used along with surgery or after surgery.
For certain types of bone tumours, other treatments may be used, such as a stem cell transplant, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy.
The doctor will talk with you about the options and then make a treatment plan for your child.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
For further information see Children’s Oncology Group Osteosarcoma.
Adaptation Date: 8/2/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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