What is bone cancer?
Bone cancer is the term for several different cancers that develop in the bones. When cancer cells grow in a bone, it can harm normal bone tissue. The type of cell and tissue where cancer begins determines the type of bone cancer.
Cancers that form in the bone itself are called primary bone cancers. Many tumours that begin in organs or other parts of the body can spread to the bones, as well as other body parts. These growths are called secondary or metastatic bone cancers. Breast, prostate, and lung tumours most commonly metastasize (spread) to the bones.
While they can develop at any age, they are more common in children, teenagers and young adults than in older adults.
Stage of primary bone cancer
- Stage 1: The tumor is low-grade, and the cancer cells are still localized.
- Stage 2: The cancer cells are still localized, but the tumor is high-grade.
- Stage 3: The tumor is high-grade and cancer has spread to other areas within the same bone.
- Stage 4: Cancer had spread from the bone to other areas of the body, such as the lungs or liver.
Primary bone cancer is a rare type of cancer that begins in the bones
This is a separate condition from secondary bone cancer, which is cancer that spreads to the bones after developing in another part of the body. Tumours that begin in organs or other parts of the body can also spread to the bones. Treatments include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Outlook and prognosis
The outlook for bone cancer depends on factors such as your age, the type of bone cancer you have, how far the cancer has spread (the stage), and how likely it is to spread further (the grade). Generally, bone cancer is much easier to cure in otherwise healthy people whose cancer hasn’t spread.
Overall, around 6 in every 10 people with bone cancer will live for at least 5 years from the time of their diagnosis, and many of these may be cured completely.
What is the outlook for people with bone cancer?
Many cases of bone cancer are successfully treated. In these instances, cancer never returns. Sometimes people need multiple surgeries to accomplish this outcome.
Other people with bone cancer might need to continue treatments including radiation therapy and chemotherapy to keep cancer from spreading. These treatments may go on indefinitely to control cancer.
It is important to follow up with your healthcare provider regularly to look for signs that the cancer is coming back (recurrent) or spreading. The earlier a recurrence is detected, the sooner your provider can start treating it.