How is bone cancer treated?
The treatment of bone cancer differs amongst patients. Doctors need to consider certain factors before deciding on a treatment plan. These include
- The type of cancer
- The stage of the cancer
- The overall health of the patient
- The patient’s preferences
The treatment of bone cancer involves surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Depending on the factors mentioned above, doctors may plan surgery and administer chemotherapy or radiation therapy after the surgery. Sometimes, only surgery or surgery along with chemotherapy may also be planned.
Surgery in bone cancer involves removing the cancerous portion from the bone and a small amount of adjacent healthy bone tissue. If the tumor is in the legs, doctors will always use techniques to preserve the legs whenever possible. This is sometimes referred to as "limb salvage" or "limb-sparing." Nine out of 10 patients can be treated with limb-sparing surgery rather than amputation. Artificial implants or prostheses, such as metal plates and soft tissues (for example, muscles) from other parts of the body are often used to restore the functioning of the operated limb. This is known as reconstructive surgery.
Sometimes, amputation may be the only option left in cases where there is extensive involvement of the leg and its reconstruction is not possible.
Radiation therapy involves passing a beam of high-energy waves through the cancerous area of the bone. This therapy destroys the tumor and shrinks it.
Chemotherapy uses strong anticancer drugs, delivered intravenously or in the form of pills to kill cancer cells. It may only work for certain types of bone cancer and not for others.