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Treatment Options for Bone Cancer

written by: Vikas Vij • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 2/16/2011

Treatments for bone cancer primarily include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These treatments may be used individually or in combination, depending on various factors.

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    How to Treat Bone Cancer?

    Cancers originating in the bone are not so common. Among the established treatments for bone cancer, surgery is a primary option. The latest surgical techniques eliminate the possibility of amputation of a limb in more than 90 percent of cases. Regular monitoring of the patient is necessary after surgery because there is a risk of recurrence of the cancer. It is also advisable for patients with an advanced condition of bone cancer to enroll in research trials and receive the latest treatments under development.

    In addition to surgical treatment, other common treatment options for bone cancer include radiotherapy, chemotherapy and cryosurgery. The choice of treatment depends on several factors such as the stage, location, size and type of bone cancer. The patient’s physical condition, age and past medical history are also factors that may influence the choice of treatment.

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    Surgery for Bone Cancer

    Most advanced surgical techniques for this cancer involve removal of the entire tumor with minimal damage to the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor area. Radical surgical options such as limb amputation are avoided in most cases due to the latest surgical techniques. However, the tumor removal may have to be followed by reconstructive surgery in cases of large tumor removal. This ensures that normal limb movement is restored as far as possible. In an extreme situation of limb removal, the surgery may be followed by a procedure of artificial limb placement.

    A limb can be saved if it the malignant area can be separated from healthy tissue and nerves. In some cases, a part of the bone may have to be removed with the tumor. The surgeon may have to do bone grafting in such case, by taking away some bone from another healthy area of the body to replace the lost bone. Alternatively, the surgeon may also make use of advanced metal prosthesis. Major rehabilitative therapies may become necessary in the aftermath of such limb-conserving surgery in order to restore the limb functionality.

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    Chemotherapy Treatments for Bone Cancer

    Chemotherapy involves the use of anti-cancer chemical drugs to destroy malignant cells. Bone cancer patients are generally administered a combination of anti-cancer drugs. The treatment is usually done intravenously in order to achieve a faster impact. In many cases, doctors prefer to opt for chemotherapy before using the surgical option.

    Chemotherapy may also be used in conjunction with radiation therapy. This may help to reduce the cancerous area to a more manageable size so that the surgeon may perform limb-conserving surgery. If the bone cancer has spread to other parts of the body, chemotherapy may be used as a treatment in such situation.

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    Radiation Therapy and Cryosurgery Options

    Radiotherapy involves the use of high-powered energy beams to destroy malignant cells. Precision is extremely important in this therapy so that the healthy tissue receives minimal exposure to radiation. Radiation therapy option is preferred in cases where the tumor is large, and it is possible to shrink it with radiation, making it easier to remove it surgically after that. This therapy may also be applied after surgery in order to destroy any remaining cancer cells.

    Cryosurgery is an advanced technique that may be used in some cases of bone cancer for more effective results. Cryosurgery involves the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill malignant cells. Cryosurgery may be used as a replacement for the traditional surgical procedure in some situations to kill the tumor.