Bone Cancer

Cancer that starts in a bone is uncommon. Cancer that has spread to the bone from another part of the body is more common.

There are three types of bone cancer:

  • Osteosarcoma – occurs most often between ages 10 and 19. It is more common in the knee and upper arm.
  • Chondrosarcoma – starts in cartilage, usually after age 40
  • Ewing’s sarcoma – occurs most often in children and teens under 19. It is more common in boys than girls.

The most common symptom of bone cancer is pain. Other symptoms vary, depending on the location and size of the cancer. Surgery is often the main treatment for bone cancer. Other treatments may include amputation, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Because bone cancer can come back after treatment, regular follow-up visits are important.

Bone Infections

Like other parts of the body, bones can get infected. The infections are usually bacterial, but can also be fungal. They may spread to the bone from nearby skin or muscles, or from another part of the body through the bloodstream. People who are at risk for bone infections include those with diabetes, poor circulation, or recent injury to the bone. You may also be at risk if you are having hemodialysis.

Symptoms of bone infections include

  • Pain in the infected area
  • Chills and fever
  • Swelling, warmth, and redness

A blood test or imaging test such as an x-ray can tell if you have a bone infection. Treatment includes antibiotics and often surgery.

Bone Marrow Diseases

Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside some of your bones, such as your hip and thigh bones. It contains immature cells, called stem cells. The stem cells can develop into the red blood cells that carry oxygen through your body, the white blood cells that fight infections, and the platelets that help with blood clotting.Illustration of a long bone

If you have a bone marrow disease, there are problems with the stem cells or how they develop.Leukemia is a cancer in which the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells. With aplastic anemia, the bone marrow doesn’t make red blood cells. Other diseases, such as lymphoma, can spread into the bone marrow and affect the production of blood cells. Other causes of bone marrow disorders include your genetic makeup and environmental factors.

Symptoms of bone marrow diseases vary. Treatments depend on the disorder and how severe it is. They might involve medicines, blood transfusions or a bone marrow transplant.

Bone Marrow Transplantation

Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside some of your bones, such as your hip and thigh bones. It contains immature cells, called stem cells. The stem cells can develop into red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body, white blood cells, which fight infections, and platelets, which help the blood to clot.

A bone marrow transplant is a procedure that replaces a person’s faulty bone marrow stem cells. Doctors use these transplants to treat people with certain diseases, such as

  • Leukemia
  • Severe blood diseases such as thalassemias, aplastic anemia, and sickle cell anemia
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Certain immune deficiency diseases

Before you have a transplant, you need to get high doses of chemotherapy and possibly radiation. This destroys the faulty stem cells in your bone marrow. It also suppresses your body’s immune system so that it won’t attack the new stem cells after the transplant.

In some cases, you can donate your own bone marrow stem cells in advance. The cells are saved and then used later on. Or you can get cells from a donor. The donor might be a family member or unrelated person.

Bone marrow transplantation has serious risks. Some complications can be life-threatening. But for some people, it is the best hope for a cure or a longer life.