There are a few types of bone cancers, but all bone cancers fall into one of two subtypes:
Experts from the musculoskeletal oncology program at UPMC Orthopaedic Care treat the following common types of primary bone cancer:
Symptoms and signs of bone cancer depend on the location and size of the tumor.
It is unknown what causes bone cancer. A few possible causes are genetics (family history) and radiation treatment.
Other risk factors that may cause bone cancer include:
To request an appointment with an orthopaedic expert at the musculoskeletal oncology program or learn about bone cancer services:
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The most common symptom of bone cancer is a dull ache in the affected bone that may worsen at night or when using the bone. Over time — as the cancer grows — the pain becomes constant.
Other common symptoms of bone cancer include:
Some signs of bone cancer depend on the size and location of the tumor.
For example, bone tumors in your:
Cancer can also cause you to lose weight and feel overly tired.
If you experience any of these symptoms for a long time without a known reason, you should consult with a doctor.
A doctor may suspect you have a bone tumor after conducting a physical exam and listening to your symptoms.
But other diseases and infections can mimic bone cancer. That's why the musculoskeletal oncology program at UPMC Orthopaedic Care uses advanced imaging technology and techniques to detect and confirm a diagnosis of bone cancer.
Your doctor may order one or more of the following bone cancer diagnostic tests:
The musculoskeletal oncology program at UPMC Orthopaedics uses the latest methods to diagnose and treat cancerous and noncancerous bone and soft tissue tumors.
Treatment for bone cancer doesn’t always mean surgery.
Once your doctor makes a diagnosis of bone cancer, we will perform staging tests to find out if the bone cancer has spread and to what extent.
We then develop a custom treatment plan, based on your overall health and bone cancer:
Radiation therapy shrinks tumors and kills cancer cells. Radiation may be external (directed at the tumor from a source outside the body) or internal (radioactive materials are placed inside the body, near the cancer cells).
Chemotherapy drugs kill cancer cells. The drugs — either pills or injections — enter the bloodstream and travel through the body, killing mostly cancer cells, but some healthy cells too.
Bone cancer surgery removes:
Whenever possible, our orthopaedic surgeons will remove the cancerous part of the bone without amputation. They will then use state-of-the-art reconstruction techniques to replace the cancerous tissue that they removed.
Adding radiation therapy or chemotherapy can help avoid the need for amputation and prevent the cancer from returning or spreading.
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Bone cancers fall into one of two categories:
While many advanced cancers can spread to the bone, the American Cancer Society estimates that primary bone cancers account for less than 0.2 percent of all cancers.
Although rare as compared to some other forms of cancer, bone cancer occurs when cancer cells — cells that divide without control or order — grow in the bone.
When cancer cells divide in excess, the body accumulates more cells than it needs. These cells form a mass of tissue called a malignant or cancerous tumor.
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No one knows the main causes of bone cancer. We do know that genetics play a major role in most cases.
There are also certain factors that may increase your risk for getting bone cancer, including:
There are no specific symptoms of bone cancer. Symptoms depend on the location and size of the tumor.
However, some common bone cancer symptoms may include:
Soft tissue tumors occur in muscles, fat, and connective tissues.
Soft tissue tumors can range from harmless things, such as a lipoma or simple fatty tumor, to dangerous diseases such as soft tissue sarcomas (cancers).
These tumors can occur throughout the body, but are most common in the:
Treatment of soft tissue tumors depends on the exact type.
Benign, noncancerous tumors — such as lipomas — often require no treatment. Doctors can also remove them surgically.
Soft tissue sarcomas generally require surgery because they can be much more aggressive. Doctors may use radiation therapy or even chemotherapy to treat some of these tumors.
Soft tissue tumors usually present as a lump. This lump may or may not grow over time, but stability over months or years does not automatically guarantee that the tumor is not cancerous.
Counter intuitively, soft tissue tumors that hurt are often noncancerous. They may represent a reaction to trauma or other inflammatory condition.
Soft tissue sarcomas (cancers) rarely cause substantial pain. Instead, they are simply painless lumps that may or may not grow.
There are many kinds of bone cancers and cancers of the supporting or soft tissues. Some cancers are more common in children and others may occur later in life.
The main types of bone and soft tissue cancers we treat at the musculoskeletal oncology program at UPMC Orthopaedic Care are:
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