All About Bone Cancer: Risk Factors, Signs And Prevention

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Dr. Vishal Kulkarni, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplant at HCG Cancer Centre Hubli

Cancer is a disease that results when cellular changes cause the uncontrolled growth and division of cells. The various risk factors of cancer include increasing age, heredity, exposure to certain radiations and chemicals and unhealthy lifestyle habits. Cancer is treatable and curable when detected at initial stages. Cancer can be of various kinds, bone cancer being one of them.

Bone cancer is the cancer that begins in the bone cells. It does not refer to those cancers that begin somewhere else and metastasize to bone. Bone cancer can begin in any bones in the body, although it usually affects the pelvis or long bones in the hands and legs. While some bone cancers affect the children, most bone cancers occur among the adults. The most common kinds of bone cancer include osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma.

Identifying the signs and causes of bone cancer

The most common signs of bone cancer are:

● Bone pain

● Swelling and tenderness near the affected area

● Weakened bone, leading to fracture

● Fatigue

● Unintended weight loss

There are several risk factors for bone cancer which include:

Inherited genetic syndromes: Certain genetic syndromes in families that are passed through generation after generation may enhance the risk of bone cancer. Li-Fraumeni syndrome and hereditary retinoblastoma are some such genetic syndromes that cause bone cancer.

Paget’s disease of bone: Paget’s disease of bone, a common bone disease among older adults also ups the risk of bone cancer that can develop later.

Radiation therapy for cancer: Radiation therapy in childhood may increase the risk of bone cancer in adult life .

Diagnosis and treatment of bone cancer

Bone scan, computerised tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) , X-ray and surgical biopsies are some of the ways by which bone cancer can be diagnosed. Surgery is the most common treatment for bone cancer removal. Other treating methods include chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Preventing bone cancer

As prevention is always better than cure, it is essential to be aware of the various ways to prevent bone cancer.

Quit smoking: Smoking enhances the risk of developing bone cancer and some other kinds of cancer like blood, immune system and bone marrow. Tobacco and nicotine have an adverse effect on bone health and make bones more prone to getting abnormal cell growth. Smoking has to be avoided to reduce bone cancer risk.

Healthy diet: Having a balanced and nutritious diet is essential to prevent bone cancer and keep it at bay. Adding fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains to the diet can help one maintain a healthy body weight. Also, it is important to abstain from consuming processed meats and packaged foods to curb bone cancer risk.

Restrict consumption of alcohol: High alcohol content is responsible for increasing bone cancer risk. Long-term alcohol consumption can up the chance of developing bone cancer, hence, excessive alcohol consumption has to be limited.

Exercise daily: Regular exercise improves bone health and is an effective way of keeping up bone health. It helps in improving blood circulation in the body and keeps many ailments including bone cancer at bay.

Get regular screening done: It is essential to get regular screening done as early detection is the only way to keep bone cancer in control. It not only prevents the bone cancer from growing into a more severe stage but also keeps the spread under control.

Bone cancer, like any other cancers, can be prevented by making certain lifestyle modifications. In case one is facing one or more of the signs, one must reach out to the expert doctors and seek clinical help.