Recognize the Various Types of Bone Cancer Treatment
Basically, how to treat bone cancer depends on the location, severity, and type. So, what are the common treatment therapies? Check out the full explanation below.
Various Methods of Bone Cancer Treatment
Bone cancer treatment is usually classified based on type, stage, history of accompanying diseases, to the patient’s overall health condition. Here are several treatment methods for bone cancer, including:
Surgery to remove areas of bone where cancer cells are present is an important part of treatment, although it is often combined with other treatments.
This is generally aimed at avoiding removal of the entire affected body part (known as limb sparing surgery).
There are several types of surgery to remove bone cancer cells:
Removal of Affected Bone Tissue
This action should ideally be performed if the cancer has not spread to other bones and the bones can be reconstructed.
The most common type of surgery involves removing the affected part of the bone and some of the surrounding tissue (if any cancer cells have spread to the tissues).
The removed piece of bone is then replaced with a metal implant called a prosthesis or a piece of bone from elsewhere in the body (bone graft). Meanwhile, if the cancer is near a joint—such as a knee—the doctor will remove the joint and replace it with an artificial one.
Amputation may be required if previous surgical procedures were unsuccessful. The unsuccessful procedure for removing bone tissue has a number of factors, including:
- Cancer has spread beyond the bone to major blood vessels or nerves.
- You developed an infection after limb and prosthesis removal surgery, or bone graft.
- The cancer has developed in a part of the body where it is technically impossible to operate without an arm, such as the ankle.
After an amputation, a person will use an artificial limb to replace the amputated limb.
As technology continues to develop, these artificial limbs are certainly comfortable and function almost like real limbs.
Cryosurgeryy uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill cancer cells. This technique can sometimes be used as a substitute for conventional surgery to destroy tumors that are present in the bone.
There are four ways of chemotherapy that can be used to treat bone cancer:
- Before surgery, it aims to shrink the tumor so that surgery can be carried out easily.
- Combined with preoperative radiotherapy (chemoradiation), this is especially the case for treating a type of bone cancer such as Ewing’s sarcoma.
- After surgery, it aims to prevent cancer cells from growing and developing again.
- To control symptoms in cases where healing is not possible (known as palliative chemotherapy).
Chemotherapy for bone cancer involves using a combination of different drugs that are usually given by infusion into a vein or into a tube that is inserted into a larger blood vessel.
Treatments are usually given in cycles. A cycle involves taking chemotherapy drugs for a few days, then taking a few weeks off to allow your body to recover from the side effects of the treatment.
The number of cycles that sufferers need depends on the type and severity (stage) of bone cancer.
Also Read: Signs Your Chemotherapy Is Working and How to Know It
3. Radiation Therapy (Radiotherapy)
Like chemotherapy, radiotherapy can be used before and after surgery to treat bone cancer, or to control symptoms and slow the spread of cancer if a cure is not possible.
Radiotherapy for bone cancer involves radiation being directed to the part of the bone containing the cancer using an external machine.
This procedure is usually given in daily sessions—5 days a week—with each session lasting a few minutes. The entire treatment will usually last several weeks.
For people with a type of bone cancer called osteosarcomaa drug called mifamurtide may be used in conjunction with the treatments previously mentioned.
Mifamurtide is an immune macrophage stimulant. This means, the drug works by encouraging the immune system to produce special cells that kill cancer cells.
This drug is usually reserved for young people with high-grade osteosarcoma and given after surgery—in combination with chemotherapy—to help prevent cancer cells from growing and developing again.
Mifamurtide is slowly instilled into a vein over one hour (infusion procedure). Treatment is usually twice a week for 12 weeks and then once a week for another 24 weeks.
5. Targeted Therapy
Another method of treating bone cancer is targeted therapy. This therapy will use drugs that are designed to interact with certain molecules involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells.
The monoclonal antibody denosumab is an example of a bone cancer drug that has received approval to treat adults and adolescents, particularly those with large cell tumors of the bone that cannot be removed surgically.
This therapy can also prevent bone damage caused by a type of bone cell called osteoclasts.
Also Read: Not only for bones, these are 12 benefits of vitamin D for the body
Side Effects of Bone Cancer Treatment
Each method of bone cancer treatment certainly has side effects. Here’s the explanation:
1. Side Effects of Operation
Post-surgery, cancer patients may experience symptoms such as:
- Weak body.
- Body aches, especially in the surgical area.
2. Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy can damage healthy cells as well as cancer cells, which means it often causes a number of side effects. Common side effects of chemotherapy include:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Increased risk of getting an infection.
- Temporary hair loss.
- Infertility (sterility).
Most of the side effects associated with chemotherapy will usually resolve after treatment is finished. However, there is a risk that you will experience infertility, aka permanent infertility.
3. Side Effects of Radiation Therapy
Radiation during radiotherapy will mostly be focused on cancer cells, but nearby healthy cells can also be damaged. This action can cause effects such as:
- Redness and irritation of the skin (this can feel like a sunburn).
- Joint pain in the body part being treated.
- Hair loss on affected body parts.
These side effects will go away after radiotherapy is finished, although the feeling of tiredness may persist for several weeks.
Also Read: 5 Vitamins for Bones and Muscles that Prevent Osteoporosis
4. Mifamurtide Side Effects
Mifamurtide can cause a variety of side effects, such as:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Diarrhea or constipation.
- Loss of appetite.
- Fatigue and weakness.
It’s not clear if it’s safe to use mifamurtide during pregnancy, so as a precaution it’s important to use an effective method of contraception if you’re a sexually active woman.
It is important to tell your doctor if you are pregnant. In addition, you should avoid breastfeeding while using mifamurtide.
5. Side Effects of Targeted Therapy
Much like chemotherapy, side effects of targeted therapy include:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- The body feels tired.
- Hair loss.
- Anonymous. Bone Cancer – Treatment. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bone-cancer/treatment/. (Accessed February 13, 2023)
- Anonymous. Primary Bone Cancer. https://www.cancer.gov/types/bone/bone-factsheet#:~:text=Treatment%20options%20for%20bone%20cancer,the%20tissue%20removed%20during%20surgery. (Accessed February 13, 2023)
- Anonymous. Treatment for Secondary Bone Cancer. https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/secondary-cancer/secondary-bone-cancer/treatment . (Accessed February 13, 2023)
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