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What is an Osteogenic Sarcoma?

Article Details
  • Written By: J.M. Willhite
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2019
    Conjecture Corporation
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A malignant bone neoplasm, or tumor, originating in the bone cells is known as an osteogenic sarcoma, or osteosarcoma. Considered a common cancerous condition among adolescents, most diagnoses of osteogenic sarcoma occur around the age of 15 years. Treatment for this condition involves the administration of chemotherapy and surgery. With a timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment, survival rates for this condition are relatively high. There are potential complications associated with this serious medical condition and these should be discussed with a qualified health care provider during consultation.

There is no known, definitive cause for the abnormal cell formation that contributes to the development of osteogenic sarcoma. It has been asserted that there may be a genetic quality to the condition since the disease has been known to run in families. Though it may manifest in any bone, osteosarcoma generally presents in large bones located in the joints, such as the knee or shoulder. Rarely are adults diagnosed with this form of malignant bone neoplasm.

Individuals with osteogenic sarcoma may experience a variety of signs and symptoms that directly influence the functionality of the affected bone. Those with an osteosarcoma may experience a limited range of motion, bone pain, or discomfort characterized by swelling, tenderness, or inflammation that is confined to the affected area. Symptomatic individuals may find they seem to be more susceptible to bone fracture with little to no exertion or they may experience discomfort when using the affected appendage.

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A diagnosis confirming the presence of an osteosarcoma may be acquired with the use of a variety of testing procedures. Individuals may undergo a blood test to check for markers indicative of cancer, an X-ray of the affected area, and a bone scan to assess the overall condition of his or her bones and determine if the sarcoma has spread. Additional testing may include a computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the affected area and a biopsy, which involves the collection of sample tissue and cells for further analysis.

Samples obtained during the biopsy may be used to determine if the tumor is malignant and, if so, the staging of the malignancy. The sample collection procedure may be conducted as either a needle or surgical biopsy. Once malignancy has been determined, the tumor is assigned a staging number based on a scale ranging from one to four.

When the tumor has not spread beyond the bone area, it is assigned a staging of one or two depending on its stage of development. If the osteosarcoma presents in more than one area of the same bone, it is given a staging of three. Stage four osteosarcomas are considered to be the most aggressive and have spread beyond the bone to other parts of the body.

Once a diagnosis of osteogenic sarcoma has been made and staging determined, chemotherapy treatment begins immediately. Before any surgical procedure may be conducted to remove the malignant growth, chemotherapy may be administered to shrink or eradicate any cancerous cells that may potentially spread throughout the body. Chemotherapy involves the oral or intravenous administration of anticancer drugs that might induce side effects that may include nausea, fatigue, and loss of appetite.

Following the discontinuation of chemotherapy, surgery may be scheduled to remove what remains of the tumor. In most cases, a procedure known as a limb-salvage surgery may be conducted, which involves the removal of the osteosarcoma while saving the affected appendage. Rarely, if the affected appendage may not be saved, amputation may be performed.

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