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Osteogenic Sarcoma

What is osteogenic sarcoma?

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.

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 young people most often between 10 and 30 years of age.

This cancer is also more prevalent in males than in females.

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.

What causes osteogenic sarcoma?

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).

What are the symptoms of osteogenic sarcoma?

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.

How is osteogenic sarcoma diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination of your child, diagnostic procedures for osteogenic sarcoma may include:

Treatment for osteogenic sarcoma:

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:

Long-term outlook for a child with osteogenic sarcoma:

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 osteosarcoma. Side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, as well as second malignancies, can occur in survivors of osteosarcoma.

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