Handling Bone Cancer
Bone cancer is a type of cancer that affects the cells of the bones. However, generally bone cancer is not found by itself. It’s what is called a metastatic cancer, which means that the cancer started somewhere else in the body and later spread to the bones. This is why few people ever get a true diagnosis of bone cancer. Instead, they’re diagnosed as having a type of metastatic cancer. For example, someone with metastatic breast cancer means that the cancer began in the breast and then spread elsewhere. However, there is another type of bone cancer that is diagnosed as such.
Non-Metastatic Bone Cancer
This is, however, a type of bone cancer that does actually begin in the bones. This is much rarer than metastatic cancer that spreads to the bones. In this case, the cells in the bones actually become malignant. There are a few other types of cancer that begin in the bones, but these are not usually classified as bone cancer. For example, lymphoma can begin in the marrow of the bones rather than in lymph nodes. However, because it doesn’t actually start in the cells of the bones, it’s not considered a bone cancer.
Causes and Risk Factors
There are a number of different things that can cause bone cancer. Some of these are environmental, while others are hereditary.
There are a few different risk factors that can increase your chance at getting bone cancer. Fortunately, bone cancer is fairly rare—only about 2,300 cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S., making up less than one percent of all cancer diagnoses. True bone cancer is usually found in children and young adults, while bone cancer in older people is usually metastatic.
Here are some of the risk factors that can lead to bone cancer:
• Having had chemotherapy with alkylating agents or radiation
• Having a mutation in the retinoblastoma gene
• Having a hereditary condition like Paget’s disease of bone or Diamond-Blackfan anemia
Signs of Bone Cancer
If you have bone cancer, the most common symptom you’ll experience is pain. This pain may be experienced at certain times of the day or after activities, and it usually gets worse. Because it can be fairly mild at the beginning and happen after doing activities like exercising, many people don’t realize they have a serious health problem for months or even years. They may not even think to mention it to their doctor. In fact, a good number of bone cancer patients are only diagnosed when they’re having scans or X-rays done for another condition.
Sometimes, a person will feel a small lump or swollen area around the bone that has cancer. Other times, they may experience a fracture because the bone becomes weak. Some rare symptoms include tingling, numbness, or coldness in the area.
Bone cancer is generally treated by a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. The cancer is first removed via surgery, and many advanced techniques now make it possible to do so without amputation. Chemotherapy is then done to make certain all the affected cells are destroyed and prevent the cancer from coming back.
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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any diseases.