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Osteosarcoma is cancer of the bone. The cancer (malignant) cells make immature bone cells (osteoid). Osteosarcoma is rare, but it is the most common type of bone cancer in children and teens. It is most common when teens have growth spurts. That is between the ages of 13 and 16.
The cancer most often grows in the ends of long bones, especially the bottom of the thigh bone (femur) and the top of the larger shin bone (tibia). The top of the upper arm bone (humerus) is another common place it grows.
The types of osteosarcoma include:
A child with one of certain rare genetic cancer syndromes may be at higher risk of osteosarcoma. Having radiation or chemotherapy treatment for other cancers also increases the risk.
Other risk factors for osteosarcoma include:
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. They can include:
The symptoms of osteosarcoma can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your child's healthcare provider will ask about your child's health history and symptoms. He or she will examine your child. Your child may be referred to a specialist. This may be a bone specialist (orthopedic surgeon) or a bone cancer specialist (orthopedic oncologist). Your child may have tests such as:
Part of diagnosing cancer is called staging. Staging checks the size and location of the main tumor, if it has spread, and where it has spread. Osteosarcoma may be stage 1, 2, or 3 with sub-stages. Or it may be stage 1, 2, 3, or 4. Talk with your child's oncologist about your child's stage and what it means. Staging also helps to decide the treatment.
Treatment will depend on the stage and other factors. The cancer can be treated with any of the below:
With any cancer, how well a child is expected to recover (prognosis) varies. Keep in mind:
A child may have complications from the osteosarcoma or from treatment, such as:
A child with osteosarcoma needs ongoing care. Your child will be seen by oncologists and other healthcare providers to treat any late effects of treatment and to watch for signs or symptoms of the tumor returning. Your child will be checked with imaging tests and other tests. And your child may see other healthcare providers for problems from the tumor or from treatment. Your child may need therapy to help with movement and muscle strength. This may be done by physical and occupational therapists.
You can help your child manage his or her treatment in many ways. For example:
Call the healthcare provider if your child has:
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.