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What Are the Symptoms of Osteosarcoma?

Jacob Queen
Jacob Queen

The primary symptoms of osteosarcoma, a kind of bone cancer, are pain and inflammation. In most cases, the disease is first noticed while teenagers are in a growth spurt. The sick individual will have unusually extreme pain in the cancerous bone, and sometimes the skin above the cancer might even become inflamed. Since the cancer usually appears in the upper arms, shins, or thighs, the pain usually shows up in those areas, but there are also cases where it can show up in smaller bones. In some extreme cases, the cancer can weaken a patient’s bones to the point where they break before the person ever realizes he is sick.

Sometimes the pain from osteosarcoma symptoms can have wider consequences. For example, the patient may feel so much pain in his legs that he starts to limp, or he might have trouble moving his arms. Since the bones are stressed, any kind of activity that puts additional pressure on the bones, such as working out or doing heavy physical labor, might have the potential to make the pain feel worse. Some patients also claim that they feel more extreme pain in the evening hours, or right before bed.

Pain in the leg to the point that a person limps could be a sign of a femoral osteosarcoma.
Pain in the leg to the point that a person limps could be a sign of a femoral osteosarcoma.

Usually, the symptoms of osteosarcoma show up in teenagers, and there is a reason for that. This type of cancer is directly related to cells that aid in bone growth. As a result, it is more likely to become a problem during a time when someone is getting larger, and there are serious growth spurts during the teen years, especially for boys. This is also thought to be part of the reason that the symptoms of osteosarcoma generally show up in boys more commonly than they do in girls, and it may have something to do with the tendency for the disease to show up in larger bones rather than smaller ones. In some cases, older people develop osteosarcoma, and when this happens, it is usually in people over 60 years of age.

Once symptoms of osteosarcoma appear, if doctors start treatment immediately, the success rate is generally considered fairly high. Like most cancers, there is a chance of the disease spreading throughout the body, but with early diagnosis, that consequence can often be avoided. In situations where the cancer does spread, a successful treatment can still happen, but the chance is not generally as good. The degree of spreading, along with the location of the cancer, and the length of time it takes to get a correct diagnosis, will generally be crucial in determining the likely success rate.

If symptoms of osteosarcoma are detected, doctors will usually do a biopsy on the patient’s bone. Sometimes this requires surgery, and sometimes they do it with a syringe. If they detect the cancer, surgery is the most common approach to treatment, but doctors usually want to do a round of chemotherapy first in order to do as much damage to the cancer as possible. In most cases, the surgical solution for this disease is to remove a small section of bone, and this is often replaced with a piece of metal. Sometimes doctors are forced to do an amputation, especially in more severe cases.

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    • Pain in the leg to the point that a person limps could be a sign of a femoral osteosarcoma.
      By: rob3000
      Pain in the leg to the point that a person limps could be a sign of a femoral osteosarcoma.