Cancer Center recognizes August as Bone Cancer Awareness Month
The June E. Nylen Cancer Center recognizes August as National Bone Cancer Awareness Month. Bone cancer is an uncommon cancer that begins in a bone. Bone cancer can begin in any bone in the body, but it most commonly affects the long bones that make up the arms and legs.
Most of the time when someone with cancer is told they have cancer in the bones, the doctor is talking about a cancer that has spread to the bones from somewhere else, this is called metastasis. It can be seen in many different types of advanced cancer, like breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer. When these cancers in the bone are looked at under a microscope, they look like the tissue they came from. For example, if someone has lung cancer that has spread to bone, the cells of the cancer in the bone still look and act like lung cancer cells. Since these cancer cells still act like lung cancer cells, they still need to be treated with drugs that are used for lung cancer.
How often does bone cancer occur? Primary bone cancer is rare. It accounts for much less than 1 percent of all cancers. About 2,300 new cases of primary bone cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year.
What are the symptoms of bone cancer? Pain is the most common symptom of bone cancer, but not all bone cancers cause pain. Persistent or unusual pain or swelling in or near a bone can be caused by cancer or by other conditions. It is important to see a doctor to determine the cause.
How is bone cancer diagnosed? To help diagnose bone cancer, the doctor asks about the patient’s personal and family medical history. The doctor also performs a physical examination and may order laboratory and other diagnostic tests. These tests may include the following: X-rays, bone scan, computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure, positron emission tomography (PET) scan, an angiogram, a biopsy (removal of a tissue sample from the bone tumor) to determine whether cancer is present and blood tests may be performed.
What are the treatment options for bone cancer? Treatment options depend on the type, size, location, and stage of the cancer, as well as the person’s age and general health. Treatment options for bone cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and cryosurgery.
Is follow-up treatment necessary? What does it involve? Yes. Follow-up varies for different types and stages of bone cancer. Generally, patients are checked frequently by their doctor and have regular blood tests and x-rays. People who have had bone cancer, particularly children and adolescents, have an increased likelihood of developing another type of cancer, such as leukemia, later in life. Regular follow-up care ensures that changes in health are discussed and that problems are treated as soon as possible.
Are clinical trials (research studies) available for people with bone cancer? Yes. Participation in clinical trials is an important treatment option for many people with bone cancer. To develop new treatments and better ways to use current treatments, NCI, a part of the National Institutes of Health, is sponsoring clinical trials in many hospitals and cancer centers around the country. Clinical trials are a critical step in the development of new methods of treatment. Before any new treatment can be recommended for general use, doctors conduct clinical trials to find out whether the treatment is safe for patients and effective against the disease. People interested in taking part in a clinical trial should talk with their doctor. Information about clinical trials is available from NCI’s Cancer Information Service (CIS) at 1–800–4–CANCER (1–800–422–6237).
For more information on bone cancer visit www.cancer.gov or information on the June E. Nylen Cancer Center visit www.nylencancercenter.com