Bone cancer

Bone cancer is a rare form of cancer. There are different types of bone cancer, depending on which bone cells the tumour stems from. The most common are osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma and Ewing Sarcoma. However, bone metastases, i.e. offshoots of other types of cancer in the bones, are far more common than actual bone cancer.

Bone cancer is one of the rarest types of cancer. Around 90 people fall ill with bone cancer in Switzerland every year. Bone cancer can already occur at a younger age. Young people between the age of 10 and 20 are actually frequently affected by this particular type of cancer.

The causes of bone cancer are largely unknown. Genetic factors seem to play a certain role as bone cancer often runs in families. Ionising radiation, which occurs after exposure to radiation, is also deemed to be a risk factor.

Bone cancer can principally occur on every part of the skeleton. The long bones on the leg and on the upper arm are affected most frequently. Pain and swelling on the affected body part are among the characteristic symptoms of bone cancer. However, a bone fracture can also be the first symptom on occasion.

Different examinations are carried out for the diagnosis. Bone cancer can be located and imaged with the help of x-rays, computed tomography or an MRI. A tissue sample will be taken under local anaesthetic to confirm the diagnosis.

The treatment for bone cancer is usually a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. If possible, the bone cancer is surgically removed in the process so that the affected arm or leg can be retained. Depending on the situation, chemotherapy will be carried out before or after the surgery. Ewing Sarcoma, which occurs primarily in adolescents, responds well to radiation therapy in contrast to other types of bone cancer.

If there are bone metastases, i.e. offshoots from other tumours such as breast cancer or lung cancer into the bones, the focus is on treating the primary tumour. The same medications that are used to treat osteoporosis can be administered to treat the symptoms triggered by the bone metastases.