Every year, millions of Americans are affected by cancer, out of which, more than 2000 people are found to be affected by bone cancer. According to the statistics published by the National Cancer Institute, about 2810 new cases of 'cancer of the bones and joints' were detected in the U.S. in 2011. About 1500 deaths due to bone cancer have been registered in 2011. When malignant tumors develop in a bone tissue itself, the condition is described as 'primary bone cancer'. Tumors can be benign too. Benign tumors do not spread and they do not destroy bone tissues. When the cancer from breast, lungs, prostate, etc. spreads (metastasizes) to the bones, it is known as 'metastasized or secondary bone cancer'. Metastasized bone cancer is more common than primary bone cancer. Unusual persistent pain and swelling in or near the affected bone are the common bone cancer symptoms.
Types of Bone Cancer
Bones are made up of osteoid (hard or compact), cartilaginous (tough, flexible), and fibrous (threadlike) tissues. The soft, spongy tissue present in the center of the bones is called bone marrow. The exact location of the bone cancer (the part of the bone where it exists) determines the 'type of bone cancer'. Following are the main types of bone cancer.
- Osteosarcoma: Osteosarcoma is the most common type of primary bone cancer. It normally occurs in long bones of arms and legs and mostly affects the young people. Knees and shoulders are usually affected by osteosarcoma.
- Chondrosarcoma: Chondrosarcoma is the second most common type of bone cancer. It originates from the cartilage cells. It usually affects people over 40 years of age. Normally the bones of hips and pelvis get affected by chondrosarcoma.
- Ewing's Sarcoma: Ewing's sarcoma is described as an aggressive bone cancer. It is mostly detected in younger people between 4-15 years of age. Usually, the middle of the long bones of arms and legs are affected by Ewing's sarcoma.
- Fibrosarcoma: Fibrosarcoma is a very rare type of bone cancer. It is found in the soft tissues of leg behind the knee area. Generally, people belonging to the age group 35-55 are affected by fibrosarcoma.
- Chordoma: Chordoma is also a rare type of bone cancer. It generally affects upper or lower end of spinal column and is mostly found in people over 30 years of age.
- Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma: Malignant fibrous histiocytoma is found in the soft tissues such as fat, muscles, tendons and ligaments. People belonging to the age group 50-60, usually get affected by it. The extremities are usually seen affected.
Bone cancer survival rate depends upon various factors like age, overall physical health, stage (how far the cancer has spread) when the cancer is detected, how long the patient has had the symptoms, type of treatment received and how strong the patient is, to withstand the treatment. Physically and mentally strong patient can have a much extended life expectancy. Surgery to remove cancer, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and cryosurgery (use of liquid nitrogen to kill the cancer cells) are the main types of treatments available for bone cancer. Life expectancy of the patient also depends upon how much cancer is killed with the help of radiation and chemo-cycles. Regular checkups play an important role in extending the life expectancy of the patient, because the cancer is likely to get metastasized to other organs like lungs, or it can come back in the same bone or other bones too. Bone cancer survival rates are calculated for different purposes by different methods. Statistics are published after studying several groups of people. Groups are formed according to the stage or type of the cancer. Mostly, the figures express the percentage of people who have survived the disease for 5 years after the diagnosis. A few years ago, the overall 5-year relative bone cancer survival rate was 70%. The 5-year relative bone cancer life expectancy, by race and sex is described below:
|Race and Sex||People Survived|
The 5-year relative life expectancy for bone cancer, depending upon the stage of bone cancer at the time of diagnosis is described here:
|Stage when Cancer is Detected||People Survived||Total Cases|
|Localized (confined to primary site)||85%||41%|
|Regional (spread towards regional lymph nodes)||70%||36%|
|Unstaged (information of stage not known)||63%||8%|
The 5-year relative bone cancer death rates according to the age of the people affected are described below:
|Age when Cancer is Detected||People Died||Total Cases|
|Under Age 20||15%||30%|
|Above Age 75||19%||4%|
The 5-year survival rate of metastasized bone cancer or final stage bone cancer is between 19 and 49 percent. The survival rate is quite encouraging, but you should not forget that the chances of beating the cancer or extending the life expectancy of the patient are strongly dependent on the determination and attitude of the patient throughout. Family support and love play an important role in uplifting the spirit of the patient. Every case of cancer is unique and these statistics should not be used to predict the health of a particular patient.