A bone to pick with osteosarcoma

A type of cancer that begins in the cells that form bones, osteosarcoma affects teenagers and one must look out for its early signs, writes Dr Rewat Laxman
Last Updated 25 September 2021, 19:30 IST

Osteosarcoma is a bone cancer that develops in the cells structuring the bones. This medical condition is observed to grow in the long bones, legs, and on rare occasions, in the arms. In certain uncommon occurrences, it can also arise in the delicate tissues outside the bone.

Osteosarcoma transpires in teenagers and young adults but can happen to children and older adults as well. Since osteosarcomas grow instantly from the bone tissue, they are commonly known as primary bone tumours. They develop and spread rapidly. Most patients experience indications similar to an infection for a while or months before they look for clinical exhortation. The common symptom is pain which becomes more apparent with active work. Because of the non-explicitness of the indications, many people assume that the aggravation is due to a previous injury.

While a lack of effective treatment can put patients in greater danger, there are a few early warning signals that can be learned and discussed with a medical practitioner to avoid any further consequences.

Swelling near a bone: Swelling is a common side effect in osteosarcoma. Based on where the tumour is, it is possible to feel a lump or mass. Pain and swelling are exceptionally normal in kids and youngsters. The swelling and pain are considerably more liable since frequent injuries and wounds are bound to happen.

Bone or joint pain: Pain at the site of the tumour in the bone is a widely recognised side effect of this medical condition. The common locales for these tumours in youngsters are around the knee or in the upper arm however, they can happen in different bones too. The pain frequently increases with time and movement, and can also bring about a limp if the tumour is in the leg bone.

Bone injury or bone break: Although osteosarcoma may debilitate the bone it occurs in, bone crack or bone break is not normal. The muscles in the arm or leg that have osteosarcoma might look more compact than the muscles in the opposite arm or leg. Every now and then, the bone can break in the space of the tumour because the tumour debilitates the bone.

Osteosarcoma is treated with chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Advances in medical procedures have helped people to deal with such medical conditions with ease. Often doctors also suggest amputation or limb-sparing surgery depending on the adversity of the condition. Nevertheless, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial before, during, and after the treatment.

(The author is a joint replacement surgeon at a leading hospital in Bengaluru.)

(Published 25 September 2021, 19:23 IST)

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