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Alternative Names Return to topOsteogenic sarcoma
Definition Return to top
Osteosarcoma is a cancerous (malignant) bone tumor that usually develops during the period of rapid growth that occurs in adolescence, as a teenager matures into an adult.
Causes Return to top
Osteosarcoma is the most common cancerous (malignant) bone tumor in youth. The average age at diagnosis is 15. Boys and girls have a similar incidence of this tumor until late adolescence, at which time boys are more commonly affected.
The cause is not known. In some cases, osteosarcoma runs in families, and at least one gene has been linked to increased risk. This gene is also associated with familial retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye that occurs in children.
Osteosarcoma tends to occur in the bones of the:
This cancer occurs most commonly in larger bones and in the area of bone with the fastest growth rate. Osteosarcoma can occur in any bone, however.
Although it is rare, osteosarcoma can occur in adults.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Treatment Return to top
Treatment usually starts after a biopsy of the tumor.
Before major surgery to remove the tumor, chemotherapy is usually given. This is strong medication injected into the vein (intravenously) to make the tumor shrink. Chemotherapy also treats any cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body.
Surgery is then used to remove any remaining tumor. In most cases, surgery can remove the tumor while sparing the affected limb (this is called limb-salvage surgery). Rarely more radical surgery (such as amputation) may be necessary for a permanent cure.
Common chemotherapy medicines include:
Support Groups Return to top
Association of Cancer Online Resources -- www.acor.org
Cure Search (formerly the National Childhood Cancer Foundation) --www.curesearch.org
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
If the tumor has not spread to the lungs (pulmonary metastasis), long-term survival rates are very high. If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, there is still a good chance of cure with effective treatment.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you have bone pain, tenderness, or swelling.
References Return to top
Skubitz KM, D'Adamo D. Sarcoma. Mayo Clin Proc. 2007;82:1409-1432.Update Date: 3/24/2008 Updated by: Stephen Grund, MD, PhD, Chief of Hematology/Oncology and Director of the George Bray Cancer Center at New Britain General Hospital, New Britain, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed byDavid Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.