Osteosarcoma is a common form of bone cancer. This cancer usually begins in cells called osteoblasts, which make bones. This type of cancer can spread to other parts of the body.

Causes

The cause is not known. There may be a genetic link.

Risk Factors

Risk factors include:

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Swelling or a lump at the location of the tumor (usually affects longer bones)
  • Pain at the tumor location
  • Difficulty moving the affected limb
  • Limping
  • Deep bone pain severe enough to wake up your child
  • Bone fractures (rarely)

If your child has any of these symptoms, talk to the doctor right away.

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and do a medical history. A physical exam will also be done. Tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • X-ray —a test that uses radiation to take a picture of bones
  • Bone scan —a test that looks for bone tumors
  • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of bones
  • MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of bones
  • Biopsy —removal of a sample of bone tissue to test for cancer cells
Treatment

Once cancer is found, the doctor will do staging tests to find out if the cancer has spread. Treatment depends on the stage and location of the cancer. Talk with the doctor and healthcare team about the best treatment plan for your child. Options include:

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body killing mostly cancer cells.

Surgery

Surgery involves the removal of the tumor, nearby tissues, and nearby lymph nodes. Surgery may require amputation of the limb. Whenever possible, the doctor will try to remove the cancerous part of the bone without amputating. Sometimes, treatment with chemotherapy can help avoid the need for amputation.

Radiation

With radiation therapy, radiation is directed at the tumor to kill the cancer cells.

Radiation of Tumor

Radiation of Tumor

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Prevention

There is no known way to prevent this type of bone cancer.