Osteosarcoma is a type of bone tumor that is prevalent in children and the elderly, and many times it is commonly found in the knee area. These tumors are in fact malignant (cancerous), and one of the reasons that it is most commonly found in children under the age of fifteen is because it generally develops during growth spurts when the children are maturing into adults. Likewise, it also affects the elderly who have had bone problems, because at these various points in time are when the bones weakened and the immune systems of these individuals are not as able to stand up to the cancerous growths.

Some of the symptoms that often signal the development of osteosarcoma include pain in the bones, swelling on the bone at the site of the tumor, fractures in the bone that seem to appear out of nowhere, a limitation in the amount of movement that you are capable of, and limping or difficulty raising the affected bone. If a patient is presented with these symptoms it is likely that x-rays will be ordered. If these slides show the development of a tumor then the growth will need to be biopsied in order to make sure that it is actually osteosarcoma, and not something else.

Once a patient has been diagnosed they will need to undergo a round of chemotherapy in an attempt to get the growth to shrink in size and to help make sure that the cancer has not spread to other areas of the body. This medication is given through an intravenous injection and it often has serious side effects that can cause problems. After this has been done the patient will need to go through a surgical procedure in an effort to remove the tumor. If the tumor has become ingrained into the bone too deeply, then salvaging the limb may not be possible. However, many times doctors are able to save the limb when osteosarcoma is caught early enough.

If these steps are taken in an appropriate and timely manner, then it is possible for patients who have been treated for osteosarcoma to be cured of the disease. There are instances when the cancer can spread to the lungs in a form of pulmonary metastasis, and if this is the case then the prognosis is not nearly as good. Since ninety percent of the cases involve children under the age of fifteen, it is important that if you have a child who is experiencing these symptoms that you get them to a doctor as soon as possible so that they can have a better chance of early detection and treatment.

As mentioned before, the knee area is one that is most commonly affected by osteosarcoma (almost fifty percent of all reported cases occur in the knee, thigh, or shin), but it is also found in the shoulder or upper arm region as well. This does not mean that osteosarcoma cannot occur in other bones, just that these are the areas where it is most commonly reported. One belief is that it affects these areas because they are the ones where the fastest growth rates occur during puberty. The sad truth is that the cancer can be found in any bone in the body, so if even if someone is experiencing symptoms in an area that is not commonly associated with osteosarcoma they should seek medical attention immediately. Since osteosarcoma is the sixth highest cause of cancer in adolescents and children, it is a good idea to be vigilant of the symptoms and problems that are associated with the disease.

Last updated on Feb 1st, 2010 and filed under Musculoskeletal Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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