Chondrosarcoma is a rare type of bone cancer, that develops in the cartilage cells, and belongs to the category of cancers called sarcomas. It is the second most common type of bone cancer, first being osteosarcoma; and accounts to 26% of primary bone cancer. To know about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of this disease, read on…
Chondrosarcoma is a malignant tumor of bone that grows in the cartilage cells, and affects the legs, shoulder blade (scapula), upper arms, rib cage or pelvis bones. Cartilage plays an important role in the growth process as it is a specialized, connective tissue that is present in adults, from which most bones develop. This tumor is slow-growing and usually grows within a bone or on its surface.
Chondrosarcoma can be categorized into primary and secondary tumors. Primary chondrosarcoma develops from a small collection of cartilage cells; whereas secondary type, develops from a pre-existing benign tumor of cartilage. This disease primarily arises in middle-aged and elderly persons between 50 to 70, and is most common in males. On examining the tumor, it looks like grayish-white, rounded mass. Chondrosarcoma is common in humans as well as animals.
Causes and Risk Factors of Chondrosarcoma
The exact cause of this bone cancer is not known, but it may be due to genetic or chromosomal factors. Chondrosarcoma is not contagious.
By knowing the risk factors of this disease, it can help you to monitor the tumor, and get appropriate treatment. Mostly, chondrosarcoma occurs from normal healthy cartilage cells, but may also arise from pre-existing cartilage tumor or benign (non-cancerous) bone. Here is a list of some benign conditions that are present when chondrosarcoma occurs.
A type of benign bone tumor that originates from cartilage cells and is most common in hands.
It’s an excess growth of cartilage and bone, and usually occurs near the end of a long bone.
It’s a rare genetic skeletal disorder caused due to the presence of multiple osteochondromas (an excess growth of cartilage and bone near the end of growth plate).
A clump or group of enchondromas, that affect the hands.
It is a combination of multiple enchondromas. Maffucci’s syndrome is a genetic disorder that is associated with a high malignancy rate. It affects both males and females and is characterized by deformities of the bone, cartilage enlargements, etc.
Symptoms of Chondrosarcoma
Symptoms of chondrosarcoma may vary from person to person, depending upon the size and location of the tumor. The most common symptoms may include:
A lump on the bone, swelling in joints or tenderness in the affected areas, causing pain in normal movement.
Weakening of bone or fracture due to swelling in the affected areas.
Feeling pressure against the lump on the affected bone.
Pain that worsens at night and may be relieved by taking anti-inflammatory medicines.
Pain that is not relieved through rest.
Feeling shortness of breath or may cough blood if the tumor has spread to lungs.
Pain that gradually worsens, and may last for many years.
Diagnosis of Chondrosarcoma
Chondrosarcoma can be diagnosed by undergoing necessary tests and X-rays. It also includes physical examination of the bone to check for swelling or tenderness. Prior to the tests, the doctor should get the complete genetic background of the patient. The different diagnostic tests for this cancer includes:
Biopsy is a diagnostic test, where a sample of the tumor is taken from the patient’s affected bone. This sample is examined under a microscope to determine the type of tumor or any abnormal cells that may be present.
A diagnostic test that uses electromagnetic radiation to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and cartilage.
Computerized Tomography Scan (CT or CAT scan)
In CT scan, a series of X-rays are taken to produce images of internal organs, bones, and cartilage, with better clarity than regular x-ray.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (also known as MRI)
A test that uses magnetic waves to produce internal images of organs, bones, and structures.
Treatment of Chondrosarcoma
The type of the treatment depends on the aggressiveness of the tumor, the grade of the cancer, the size, and location of the tumor. The main treatment for this is to remove the tumor. The specific treatment to be followed is decided by the physician based on the patient’s age, overall health, and medical history. Treatment may include:
Surgery is the main form of treatment for this cancer, because typically this cancer does not react to radiation and chemotherapy.
The physical therapy is used to heal the affected area and regain the strength after surgery.
In this treatment, high-power X-rays are used to mark and destroy the cancer cells. This reduces the risk of cancer being spread to other organs. Usually it is performed after the surgery.
Chemotherapy uses anti-cancerous drugs to destroy the cancer cells in the body. This treatment may be required if the cancer has spread to other areas.
Tumors can be recurring, so, it’s absolutely essential for a patient to visit a physician for regular follow-ups. The recovery time can vary from person to person, hence emotional support from family and friends is necessary during this stage. The patient should also take care of his diet, as it will help him to get over the adverse effects of the treatment.