Treating the most common bone cancer in children

bone cancer in children

Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that is most common. It accounts the 6 % of children cancer that happens all over the world. Other children cancer may also spread to the bone, but osteosarcoma begins in bone itself and then spread to the other parts of body such as lungs or other bones. The development usually begins in osteoblasts. Osteoblast is the cells which make bone grow. The teenagers that have a growth spurt are likely to be affected with osteosarcoma. This bone cancer tends to be affected boys more than girls. Most cases happen in the ages of 10 to 20. A lot of the cases involve knee bone.

Currently, there is no effective way to prevent this to be happening. It can be the genetic effect that is brought by the parents. But, there are still hopes. With the right treatment and diagnosis, the osteosarcoma patients can recover.

There are some osteosarcoma symptoms and signs you need to know. They are bone pain, swelling around a bone, interference with normal movements, weak bones, fracture, fever, anemia, weight loss, and fatigue. From all those symptoms, pain in a bone is the most common one. Your kid might feel a lump on the bone. You might find your child injured himself while playing, and the pain will take longer than usual. You might be assuming that your kid’s bone is broken, then taking it to the doctor. The doctor will do X-rays and the bone tumor is revealed.

If these things happen, you need to take your kid to the doctor immediately. The examination will be completed by the doctor. It includes the blood tests and X-rays.

Blood tests

In the blood test, the doctor will test the blood for alkaline phosphatase. If there is an active bone tissue cells, there will be a large amount of alkaline phosphatase. It also happens If a broken bone is mending. Doctor will also find that alkaline thing when bone cancer is there. You have to keep in mind that blood test do not indicate bone cancer. The doctor need to do further tests when the test is positive.

X rays

The doctor who specialized in reading x-rays is called radiologist. In most cases, radiologist will easily see whether the patient has bone cancer or not through x-rays. The bone cancer will show up the ragged bone instead of the solid one. Radiologist can tell it is a bone cancer when there is a hole in the bone. He can tell you if the tumor is malignant as it appears on the x-ray. However, it is not an absolute determination. Only a biopsy test can diagnosed that it is really a bone cancer or osteosarcoma.

When one of those tests is done and prove the positivity of bone cancer, the doctor can’t decide the diagnosis. He will refer you to an orthopedic oncologist. The oncologist will do a treatment called biopsy. A biopsy is done by looking at the cells using a microscopy. A CT scan or an MRI may also be an option. A doctor will treat a bone cancer by giving it a surgery. The surgery will remove the tumor. It is done with chemotherapy.


An amputation or limb-salvage are the kind or surgery that are included in bone cancer surgery for children. If the cancer is involving a leg or arm, the amputation is not the right choice. Instead, the patient can be treated with limb-salvage surgery. Limb-salvage surgery will remove the bone and muscle that is affected by the cancer. Then either a bone graft or artificial part will fill the gap. Using bone graft has more infection risk than using an artificial part which is special metal prosthesis. The metal prosthesis is used more commonly than bone graft. The prosthesis will help reconstructing the bone after removing the tumor.

If the cancer your kid has is already spread to the blood vessels and nerves around the tumor on the bone, the only choice you have is amputation. If it is already spread to the lungs or elsewhere, you need to a certain surgery in the exact location.


It is done both before and after surgical treatment. With chemotherapy you will be able to eliminate small pockets of cancer cells that is placed inside the body. The drugs of chemotherapy are given through a vein for the osteosarcoma kid. The drugs will kill the cancer through the bloodstream. It will work in the lungs and other organs.

There are some side effects, whether it is short term or long term, that will be experienced by the child with bone cancer who takes the treatment.

Amputation effects

Amputation carries its side effects. The person needs to learn using an artificial arm or leg, it usually takes about three to six months. The psychological and social rehab begins from there.

Limb-salvage surgery effects

With the surgery, the person usually begins to bend the knee or other body parts that is affected, almost immediately. It will need a machine such as CPM (Continuous passive motion) machine. CPM will help the person to perform bending and straightening continuously. It is done to improve motion for the person or child that has tumor around his knee. It takes about six to twelve months for the rehabilitations and therapy after the surgery.

Chemotherapy effects

A lot of medicines that are used in chemo also bring the problem risks. The problems are anemia, kidney damage, menstrual irregularities, and abnormal bleeding. Some other drugs may carry a bladder inflammation risk and bleeding urine. There many other problems that can give bad effect to other parts of the body. Use the medicines based on the doctor instruction.

Survival rates

The rates of survival in curing this bone cancer are about 60 percent to 80 percent. Those rates are quite possible for the person whose osteosarcoma has not spread beyond the tumor yet. The spread is depending on the chemotherapy success. So, it is very crucial to recognize the symptoms early. So, you can treat it immediately to get the higher chances of cure.