Chondrosarcoma is a type of cancer that develops in the cartilage cells of a bone. This article provides information on the symptoms and treatment of this medical condition.
Cancer is a serious condition that is characterized by the development of a tumor due to uncontrolled and abnormal division of cells. When the malignant growth starts in a bone, the affected individual is diagnosed with primary bone cancer. Chondrosarcoma is the second most common primary bone cancer that affects the connective tissue or cartilage cells of the thigh bone, pelvis, shoulder blades, upper arm, knee, spine, or ribs. Cartilage is basically the tough elastic tissue that forms a protective covering on the ends of the bones. The uncontrolled division takes place in cartilage cells called chondrocytes. The abnormal cartilage cells begin to develop on the surface of the bone. The tumor could even develop within the bone. The growth could be slow or aggressive.
Chondrosarcoma is classified into various subtypes on the basis of their location. It could be central (when it occurs within the bone) or peripheral (when it occurs on the surface of the bone). The variants of this condition include dedifferentiated, clear cell, mesenchymal and juxtacortical chondrosarcomas. The exact cause of this condition is not known. It is believed that some people might be genetically predisposed. Doctors generally attribute it to chromosomal or genetic components, however, there are certain conditions that might increase one’s risk. Those who have been diagnosed with genetic conditions such as hereditary multiple exostoses (HME), Ollier’s disease, and Maffucci’s syndrome are at an increased risk of developing this type of bone cancer. People affected by benign bone tumor in the form of chondroma, enchondroma, and osteochondroma are also susceptible.
The symptoms vary, depending on the size and location of the abnormal malignant growth. Besides the development of a mass or lump on the affected bone, the affected area generally swells up. It might be tender to touch. The affected individual is likely to experience a feeling of pressure or pain in the affected area. Sometimes, the bone might weaken or break due to the pressure. Generally, the pain seems to worsen at night. The pain might be dull, and might even persist even at rest. If the cancer has metastasized to lungs, the patient might start coughing up blood or experience shortness of breath. If this condition affects the pelvis, the patient might develop urinary obstruction.
Besides analyzing the patient’s medical history, doctors generally conduct a physical examination along with imaging procedures such as an X-ray examination, MRI, bone scan, or a CT scan. Generally, a needle biopsy is performed in order to make an assessment about the type of bone cancer.
The prognosis is fair and poor in case of a low-grade and high grade chondrosarcoma respectively. A better outcome can be expected when the cancerous cells are slow growing and the doctors feel that the chances of metastasis are less. The grade and type of cancer definitely has an impact on the life expectancy.
The treatment option can be ascertained only after the type or the grade of cancer has been identified. The patient’s medical history, age, and overall health are considered to determine the most suitable treatment option. Surgery might be resorted to, if the tumor seems to be growing aggressively, and there is a possibility of recurrence of sarcoma. Though the treatment options might involve the use of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, these have been found to be less effective in alleviating the symptoms of chondrosarcoma. Drugs are prescribed if the cancer seems to be spreading to other parts of the body. Physical therapy might also be needed to strengthen the affected bone.
An early diagnosis and timely treatment definitely affects the survival rate, which is why medical help must be sought by those who have been experiencing the aforementioned symptoms.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.