What Is a Bone Neoplasm?

J.M. Willhite
J.M. Willhite

A bone neoplasm is an extraneous growth on the bone. Serving no purpose, a bone neoplasm, also known as a tumor, can be benign or malignant. Treatment for a bone neoplasm is wholly dependent on the growth’s composition. Malignant neoplasms generally require surgery to remove them, followed up with combination anticancer therapy, including chemo.

Individuals with a bone neoplasm undergo imaging testing, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to determine the exact location and presentation of the growth. It is not uncommon for a bone scan and X-ray of the affected area to be performed to further evaluate the tumor. A biopsy of the suspicious tissue is generally taken to discount or confirm malignancy.

Like so many other tumorous conditions, there is no known cause for the development of a bone neoplasm. Medical organizations, including the University of Maryland Medical Center, suggest a number of factors may contribute to tumor development, including trauma to the affected area and radiation exposure. A mutation in the genetic code of one's bone cells is also a likely contributing factor. As associated with other forms of tumor development, a mutation on the cellular level can trigger localized, uncontrolled cellular reproduction that leads to tumor formation.

A bone tumor can initiate a variety of signs and symptoms. Individuals experience visible swelling in the immediate area of the growth. Tenderness can easily give way to bone discomfort that can impair limb function depending on the location of the tumor, such as the leg or arm. It is not uncommon for some people to exhibit dramatic weight loss or become easily fatigued with little to no physical exertion.

Most bone neoplasms are deemed benign. There are several classifications of benign bone neoplasms, including osteoid, osteochondroma, and echondroma. The name given for a particular benign growth is generally dependent on its location, such as the hands or long bones. Usually, benign tumors are simply monitored for changes over the long term. In some cases, if the tumor is causing pain or other issues, it may be removed.

A malignant bone tumor originating within the bone itself is considered a rare condition. Known as primary bone cancer, a malignant bone neoplasm can occur anywhere within the skeletal system. Detecting and properly treating a malignant bone neoplasm in a timely manner is essential to preventing the spread of cancer cells to surrounding tissues and other parts of the body.

Treatment for a malignant bone neoplasm is dependent on the staging and location of the tumor. Surgery is often required to remove the cancerous growth. If the tumor has become invasive, or spread within the affected area, a partial or complete removal of the affected bone may be performed. Surrounding tissues may also be excised to prevent the metastatic spread of cancerous cells. Following surgery, anticancer therapies may be given, including chemo and radiation.

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