Bone and muscle tumors(cancer) are relatively an uncommon entity when compared to other cancers in the body. Tumors that occur in the muscles and bones are primarily rare and are often missed or misdiagnosed. They may be an isolated primary tumor or they may be secondary to other tumors in the body.
What you need to know about bone tumors…
- They may be cancerous(malignant) or non cancerous(benign).
- Non cancerous bone tumors are common than cancerous tumors.
- Cancerous tumors tend to spread to other parts of the body while non cancerous tumors do not.
- Both grow over time.
- Cost common cancers that spread from other parts of the body to the bone are lungs, prostate and breasts can spread to the bone.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Pain in the bone
- Fracture or break in the bone
- Swelling and a mass at the affected area with increasing size
Diagnosing Musculoskeletal Tumors
The first step is the physical examination by the doctor. The doctor will evaluate the symptoms and signs. He may also ask you to explain about your entire health. In order to have a better understanding, it is suggested to inform the doctor about your other health problems.
After physical examination, doctor may suggest you to have a few blood tests, x rays and if scans to confirm the site and size and character of the tumor. Whole body bone scan may be required to confirm if other areas are involved.
If inconclusive, sometimes a needle biopsy or excision biopsy is performed to study the tumor in a better way. The removed piece is sent for evaluation (histopathological examination) and treatment is planned according to the report.
The main treatment procedures used to treat musculoskeletal tumors are:
Usually, surgeries are used to remove the tumor and surrounding tissue. As musculoskeletal tumors affect the limbs, amputation was used in the past to prevent it from spreading to the healthy tissues. Now, the most developed techniques have found the technique to prevent it. That is called, limb-sparing surgery. It uses advanced techniques combined with radiation therapy. Limb-stabilizing devices are also used to reduce the number of surgical procedures required and fasten the recovery.
It is the technique which uses energy beams to smash the cancer cells. They are also used as an additional method after the surgery to devastate the remaining cancer cells. It can also be used before the surgery. Sometimes, it is considered as the main treatment in some cases. Radiation therapies are also used to alleviate symptoms after the spread of cancer. There are different types of therapies. They are:
- Helical Tomo Therapy: An advanced mode of radiation therapy. It merges intensity modulated radiation therapy with precision spiral computed tomography scanning. It uses highest dose of radiation.
- Branchytherapy: Very tiny pellets of radioactive materials will be inserted directly into the cancerous tissue. This attacks the tumor inside. This direct procedure helps in minimizing the radiation to healthy tissue.
- Developmental Cancer therapy: It focuses on the molecular basis of cancer to develop new agents that fight cancer effectively and without or fewer side effects.
Anticancer medicines are given orally or administered in to the vein. There are different types of drugs and treatment methods used in chemotherapy to treat musculoskeletal tumors. Chemotherapy can be given to the patient as the main treatment or as an additional treatment according to the type and severity of the disease.
Soft tissue tumors:
It is not necessary to show symptoms when the tumor is on the soft tissues because soft tissues tend to be elastic. The tumors that develop in the soft tissues cannot be much visible at its early stages. It can be felt only when the tumors become that much larger. The first symptom that is commonly seen is a painless mass which rapidly grows in size. When the tumor grows, it press against the muscles and nerves. This causes soreness and pain. When you notice these symptoms, you should consult your doctor.