- What is bone cancer?
- What are the different types of bone cancer?
- What causes bone cancer?
- What are the symptoms?
- How is bone cancer treated?
- What can I do to help someone who is undergoing cancer treatment?
- What is the outlook for bone cancer?
What is bone cancer?
Bone cancer is the development of abnormal cells in bone tissue, which result in a tumour. It accounts for 1% of all cancer diagnosed in Ireland each year. Cancer may spread to the bone from other parts of the body and this is known as metastases or secondaries.
What are the different types of bone cancer?
- Osteosaroma bone cancer is the most common type, affecting teenagers whose bones are undergoing rapid growth.
- Ewing's sarcoma, which affects the bone marrow, is most common in children and young adults aged 20 to 30.
- Chondrosarcoma, which originates in the cartilage, affects middle-aged adults.
- Other cancers of the bone include fibrosarcoma, chordoma and malignant giant cell tumours.
What causes bone cancer?
It is difficult to identify specific causes of bone cancer. There may be a genetic link and bones which have been previously fractured or infected may be more susceptible to bone cancer. Excessive exposure to chemicals or radiation may also increase the risk of bone cancer.
What are the symptoms of bone cancer?
Symptoms can include:
- Joint and bone swelling.
- A hard lump felt on the surface of a bone, often painful when pressure is applied.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Inability to move freely.
- Frequent bone fracture.
How is bone cancer treated?
Treatment of bone cancer, as with all the other types of cancer, depends on location, size and extent of the tumour as well as the age and health of the individual. Treatment will include a combination of chemotherapy (drug treatment), sometimes in combination with surgery or radiation therapy.
What is the outlook for bone cancer?
The earlier bone cancer is treated, the more successful treatment is likely to be. However, survival rates for bone cancer after five years are very poor.
What can I do to help someone who is undergoing cancer treatment?
A diagnosis of cancer can change the lives of the individual and the people close to them. Support groups provide useful services for those who have been diagnosed with cancer and their family members.
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