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Also called osteosarcoma, osteogenic sarcoma is one of the most common types of bone cancer in children and accounts for nearly 3 percent of all childhood cancers. About 400 children are diagnosed with osteosarcoma each year.
The disease usually occurs in the long bones, such as the arms (humerus), legs (femur/tibia), and pelvis. It rarely occurs in the jaw and fingers, but often occurs at the ends of these bones near growth plates. Osteosarcoma affects children most often between 10 and 25 years of age.
This cancer is also more prevalent in males than in females, possibly because of the rapid growth rate at this age. Prior to adolescence, the percentage of affected males and females is equal.
Osteogenic sarcoma cancer cells can also spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body. Most commonly, these cells spread to the lungs. However, bones, kidneys, the adrenal gland, the brain, and the heart can also be sites of metastasis.
It has been suggested that repeated trauma to an area may be a risk factor for developing this type of cancer. It is uncertain whether trauma is a cause or effect of the disease. Cancer lesions in the bone can make that area of the bone weaker, thus, making injury more likely. However, repeated injuries to a certain area of the bone may lead to an increased production of osteoid tissue to repair the damaged area. The rapid production of osteoid tissue may lead to the malignancy. It is thought, most often, that injury simply brings the condition to attention and has no causal relationship.
Genetics may play an important role in developing osteosarcoma. Children and adults with other hereditary abnormalities, including exostoses (bony growths), retinoblastoma, Ollier's disease, osteogenesis imperfecta, polyostotic fibrous dysplasia, and Paget's disease, have an increased risk for developing osteosarcoma.
This form of cancer has also been linked to exposure to ionizing irradiation associated with radiation therapy for other types of cancer (i.e., Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's disease).
The following are the most common symptoms of osteogenic sarcoma. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to, the following:
The symptoms may have been present over a short period of time or may have been occurring for six months or more. Often, an injury brings a child into a medical facility, where an x-ray may indicate suspicious bone lesions.
The symptoms of osteogenic sarcoma may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination of your child, diagnostic procedures for osteogenic sarcoma may include:
Specific treatment for osteogenic sarcoma will be determined by your child's physician based on:
Treatment may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following:
Prognosis for osteogenic sarcoma greatly depends on:
As with any cancer, prognosis and long-term survival can vary greatly from child to child. Every child is unique and treatment and prognosis is structured around the child's needs. Prompt medical attention and aggressive therapy are important for the best prognosis. Continuous follow-up care is essential for a child diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma. Side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, as well as second malignancies, can occur in survivors of osteogenic sarcoma. New methods are continually being discovered to improve treatment and to decrease side effects.
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