Not only is bone cancer a worrisome diagnosis for patients and their families, the prospect of treating any cancer can be frightening, as you may not know what challenges you can expect or how to overcome them.
In this article, we'll be looking specifically at bone sarcomas, which are cancers that arise in the body's bone, muscle and connective tissue. There are several other types of bone tumors, including:
- Other cancerous tumors that arise in the bone marrow;
- Benign tumors of the bone; and
- Non-bone cancer that spreads into the bone.
Each of these types of tumors brings its own unique care challenges and treatment strategies.
When patients learn they have bone cancer, one of the most common fears is that they'll need to have a limb amputated. Historically, this kind of aggressive treatment was the first line of attack against bone cancer, and many prominent cases were treated this way.
But for many patients today, this is no longer the case. The limb is spared, and amputation is not necessary. Modern treatments for bone cancer treat the tumor(s) with a combination of medical and surgical methods. Doctors do this while preserving as much limb function as possible, maximizing the patient's ability to function and ensuring a high quality of life, both during and after treatment.
The Diagnosis Process
Providing an accurate diagnosis, with vital information about the type and stage of cancer, is critical to treatment. An accurate, thorough diagnosis helps your team of doctors create a treatment plan that's safe, effective and thorough, and minimizes unnecessary treatment.
One of the most vital aspects of the diagnosis is the biopsy, which is an examination of a tissue sample collected from the body. A good biopsy should be minimally invasive, only testing parts of the tissue suspected to be affected. CT-guided or ultrasound-guided needle biopsies, or needle biopsies performed in a major clinic, allow precise, careful testing of tissue.
An appropriately-placed biopsy takes just enough tissue to test, and no more. But at the same time, some doctors – especially those who do not commonly work with bone cancers – take too little tissue for a definite diagnosis, forcing a re-biopsy. Our doctors always work to take the proper amount for the biopsy – not too much, and not too little.
Devising a Treatment Plan
Different types of bone cancer require different treatments. The limbs affected and the stage of cancer will also affect the treatment plan. For some cancers, chemotherapy is needed prior to a limb-salvaging surgery. Other cancers don't respond as well to chemotherapy and require surgery (not necessarily an amputation) to treat. This is why obtaining an accurate diagnosis is so crucial.
Primary bone cancer is very rare, and its treatment is often highly specialized and complex. One of the best ways you can assure swift, safe and thorough treatment is to receive diagnosis and treatment at a large center that employs a team of experienced oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, pathologists and other doctors. This way, you know you'll get the care you need, and your quality of life will be assured.
When your doctor suspects bone cancer, one of the most important ways to ensure successful treatment and a high quality of life is to receive an accurate diagnosis at a major medical center. If you do indeed receive a bone cancer diagnosis, receiving comprehensive treatment from a team of experienced doctors at a major care facility is vital to ensuring you receive the best care possible.