The skeleton is the framework of the body. Bones are what give the body, structure and stability, it is because of this intricate framework that the body is able to move the way it does. While bones are hard and not very brittle, they are susceptible to cancer. Bone cancer is a kind of malignant cancer in which tumors begin to form on the bones. These tumors can be both malignant and benign. Fortunately, in children, benign tumors are more common than malignant ones.
Bone cancer in children is not very common. More often than not, the cancer spreads to the bones as a result of metastasis. Primary bone cancer is rather rare as compared to metastasized cancer.
There are several types of bone cancer in children, but Ewing tumors of the bone are the most common of all types. This is a primary bone cancer and is the third most common of its type. Though these tumors typically form in the bones, they often develop in other tissues and organs first. These tumors are usually first found in the pelvis and chest wall. They may also form in the arms and legs. Based on where the cancer develops, it could be termed as:
Though the causes of bone cancer in children are not clear, it seems they are more common in African Americans and Asian Americans. While Caucasians do experience bone cancer, it is rarer amongst them.
Some of the factors that could put children at a risk of getting bone cancer include:
The most common symptoms of bone cancer in children include pain and discomfort. However, not all bone cancers cause such pain. Cancer may however, cause persistent pain and swelling of the bone. If there are no external injuries but the pain continues to remain, it is best to get an x ray. X rays, bone density tests, bone scans, CT scans, MRIs and PET scans usually perform the diagnosis. In some cases, a bone biopsy may have to be performed to check whether the cancer is benign or malignant.
The most common treatment methods for bone cancer in children include re-sectioning surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and cryosurgery. Since the cancer usually metastasizes very quickly, bone cancer in children survival rate is usually low. If the doctors are able to excise the tumors completely, the child will still require lifelong care and follow ups to check for recurrence.