Bone cancer is a serious disease associated with the abnormal cell division in the tissues of a bone. In this article, we will look into the bone cancer complications that may occur as the disease progresses.
Cancer is a serious medical condition that is associated with the formation of a malignant growth or tumor. The formation of such growth is caused by an abnormal and uncontrolled cell division. Bone cancer, therefore, signifies an uncontrolled and abnormal growth and division of cells in the tissues that make bone. Though instances of cancer spreading from other parts of the body to the bone are not uncommon, primary bone cancer or the cancer that starts in a bone is rather uncommon.
Osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, fibrosarcoma, chordoma and malignant fibrous histiocytoma are some of the types of primary bone cancer. Out of these, osteosarcoma and chondrosarcoma are more common. While osteosarcoma is commonly seen to affect those who are in the age group of 10 to 25 years, chondrosarcoma usually affect adults. Though the exact cause of bone cancer is still unknown, faulty genes or exposure to radiation are believed to be the precipitating factors for this deadly condition. In this article, we will look into the bone cancer symptoms along with its complications.
Symptoms of Bone Cancer
The intensity of the symptoms of bone cancer usually varies depending on the size as well as the location of the cancerous growth. The patient would experience intermittent bone pain at the site of the tumor in the initial stages. As the disease progresses, the pain may become a constant feature in one’s life. The pain may even affect the patient’s ability to sleep at night. Besides the bone pain, the affected area may also swell up and become tender to touch.
At times, bone cancer may also manifest in the form of a mass on or around the affected bone. Unintended weight loss, fever, fatigue and weakened bones are some of the other symptoms that may accompany bone pain and swelling. X-ray examination along with imaging tests such as bone scan, MRI, CT scan and positron emission tomography can help the doctors detect the location of cancerous growth.
A biopsy would also be needed to determine whether the growth is benign or malignant. It is also important to determine the stage of bone cancer. In the first and the second stages, the cancer is limited to the bone. While the cancer occurs in two or more places in the bone in the third stage, the cancer starts spreading to other parts of the body in the fourth stage. As the disease progresses, one is at a greater risk of developing bone cancer complications.
Complications of Bone Cancer
As the cancer progresses, the affected bone becomes weaker and therefore, one becomes more susceptible to fractures. The changes in bone density make the bone so weak that it may break even due to a mild injury. Such fractures would lead to severe pain around the site of the tumor. Hypercalcemia is one of the common complications. As the cancer destroys the bone, it leads to the release of calcium into the blood.
The increase in the levels of calcium may lead to fatigue, constipation, loss of appetite and bone pain. Metastasis or spread of cancer to other parts of the body could occur through the lymphatic system or the bloodstream. Since the lymphatic system is a part of the body’s immune system, one may be at a risk of other health problems. Complications associated with bone cancer could also be attributed to the treatment options that are employed for bone cancer.
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the treatment options that are commonly used for destroying the cancerous cells. At times, the healthy cells may also be destroyed along with the cancerous cells. This may lead to certain problems. Hair loss, bleeding, infection, nausea, sore gums and loss of appetite could occur due to chemotherapy. At times, surgery may be needed to remove the tumor. As is the case with most surgical procedures, the risk of infection or bleeding cannot be ruled out.
This was a brief overview on bone cancer. As this disease progresses, one becomes susceptible to various health problems. It is, therefore, essential that tests are done to monitor the spread of the disease and steps are taken to control the spread of the cancer to other parts of the body. Since some of the treatments can also give rise to complications, there is a great need to study the impact of the treatment and closely monitor the overall health of the patient.