Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Bone Cancer Treatment?
At Cedars Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital, our nationally-recognized team is dedicated to providing you with the best possible care by diagnosing, treating, and researching the most common types of cancer, including bone cancer. Through compassionate care, our combined team of oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, radiation therapists, pathologists, and nurses are steadfast in their mission to reduce bone cancer development, foster the discovery of new treatments, and provide personalized care for every one of our cancer patients.
Bone cancer is a sarcoma that starts in the bone or cartilage. Also known as primary bone cancer, this disease can be life-threatening, but it is also very rare, accounting for less than three percent of all cancers in the U.S. It was estimated that in 2021, in the United States, around 3,600 people of all ages will be diagnosed with primary cancer of the bones and joints, according to the American Cancer Society.
The precise cause of most bone cancers is currently unknown. Bone cancer occurs when cells divide and grow out of control, forming new, abnormal cells. Quite often, bone cancer is the result of metastasis, meaning that cancer that started somewhere else in the body has spread to the bones where they begin to multiply.
Treatment for bone cancer depends on the type of bone cancer you have, the location and size of the tumor, how far it has spread, and your overall health. It usually involves surgery to remove the tumor, followed by chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy to kill the cancer cells.
Surgery is the primary treatment for most types of primary bone cancer. The aim is to remove the whole tumor along with a margin of normal tissue around it. The type of surgery you have depends mainly on where the tumor is, the size of the tumor, the stage of cancer, and the type of bone cancer.
Chemotherapy is a systemic therapy, which means the anti-cancer drugs are infused into the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body so that they are able to destroy, shrink, or control cancer cells.
Our radiation therapists use high-energy radiation to treat certain types of bone cancer. This treatment uses high-energy X-rays to destroy cancer cells and it may be used:
- before surgery, to shrink the size of the tumor, allowing the surgeon to preserve all or parts of an organ
- after surgery or chemotherapy, to kill cancer cells remaining after the initial treatment
- to help control cancer if it’s not possible to remove the tumor surgically
- to help control pain or other symptoms
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally-invasive procedure used by our radiologists to treat small bone tumors. The procedure involves high-frequency electrical currents to kill cancer cells.
There are several different types of primary bone cancer and, depending on the tissue of origin, a tumor can occur in different parts of the body.
Osteosarcoma - typically occurs in the arm near the shoulder and in the leg near the knee in children, adolescents, and young adults
Ewing’s sarcoma - typically forms in the middle area of bones most often in the upper arm, ribs, hip, and thighbone. It occurs in 16% percent of bone cancer cases, grows quickly, and spreads to other parts of the body, including the lungs.
Adamantinomas - a very rare cancer that occurs in the bones of the lower leg (usually in the shinbone).
Chondrosarcoma - most often forms in the pelvis, knee, shoulder, or upper part of the thigh. It is one of the most common bone cancers, making up 26% of bone cancer cases.
Chordomas - most commonly develop in the base of the spine (sacrum) and at the base of the skull.
Symptoms of Bone Cancer
The surgeons and staff at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital want you to understand the basics of orthopedic oncology, sarcomas, and osteosarcoma. We hope that education on these procedures and pathologies will lead to a better understanding of symptoms and a better understanding of the treatment and diagnosis involved in relieving pain.
The most common symptom of bone cancer is persistent bone pain that gets worse over time and continues into the night. Other symptoms include:
Other symptoms include fever, fatigue, unintended weight loss, tingling, and numbness if the spine is involved.
Diagnosis of Bone Cancer
It's more likely that an injury causes swelling, which when it's investigated, shows up as cancer that is already there. Or a bone affected by cancer may be weakened and fractures more easily than normal. Doctors may then spot the tumor when they investigate your fracture.
X-rays and scans are the usual tests done to diagnose or determine the stage of bone sarcoma. But the most definitive way of diagnosing bone cancer is to remove a sample of tissue (biopsy) from the tumor for laboratory testing. This will either be done under a local anesthetic or a general anesthetic.
Your doctor may also sample your blood and/or urine to help in diagnosing bone cancer. When abnormal bone tissue is being formed by cancer cells, a high level of an enzyme called alkaline phosphatase increases.
Our cancer experts work with a multidisciplinary care team that uses a wide array of diagnostic tests, such as PET, bone, and CT scans, to diagnose and stage the disease and customize an individualized treatment plan. Imaging and laboratory tests can track the size of the tumors and the response to treatment, allowing our care team to modify the treatment plan as needed.
Anyone can get primary bone cancer. However, most people who develop bone cancer (95 percent) don’t have any obvious risk factors. While scientists are not certain what causes bone cancer, certain factors are associated with an increased risk, such as:
- Heredity. A small number of bone cancers, mostly osteosarcomas, seem to be linked to hereditary diseases - genetic changes that are passed on in families. For example, a genetic condition that may increase bone cancer risk is Li-Fraumeni syndrome, a disorder caused by a mutation in the p53 tumor suppressor gene.
- Treatment with radiotherapy or some chemotherapy drugs. High radiation doses may increase the risk of developing bone cancer. Treatment at a young age with certain types of chemotherapy might also be linked with the later development of bone cancer.
- Other bone conditions. People who have had fibrous dysplasia, multiple enchondromas or Paget's disease are at higher risk of bone cancer. Some studies also suggest that people who have had adult soft tissue sarcoma have a slightly higher risk of developing bone cancer.
Currently, scientists are making progress in understanding bone cancer process, but there are still some points that are not completely understood.
Alternative medicine may not play a direct role in curing bone cancer, but it may help you cope with signs and symptoms caused by cancer and cancer treatments. Common signs and symptoms such as anxiety, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, difficulty sleeping, and stress may be lessened by alternative treatments.
A new drug delivery system using curcumin - the main active ingredient in turmeric - has been shown to have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and bone-building capabilities, scientists say. The main ingredient in the spice turmeric successfully inhibits bone cancer cells while promoting the growth of healthy bone cells and is typically administered before and after surgeries in cases of osteosarcoma.
To help cancer patients manage the side effects of treatment, our multidisciplinary team of experts provides supportive care services designed to help our patients stay strong and maintain quality of life throughout treatment.
Our supportive care services for bone cancer patients include:
- Pain management - Pain caused by bone cancer takes many forms; it can be dull, achy, sharp or burning, constant, intermittent, mild, moderate, or severe. At Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital, it’s our mission to provide a caring, compassionate, and collaborative environment for your journey to pain relief.
- Rehabilitation - Rehabilitation is an important part of returning to the activities of daily living after bone cancer treatment and focuses on restoring and optimizing human functional mobility, helping people return to their function with minimal risk of injury. Recovery is different for each person and will depend on the type of treatment you had, your age, and many other factors.
There are no foolproof ways that have been discovered yet to prevent bone sarcoma. Medical experts widely agree upon the following tips:
- Protect your bone health so that a bone disease is avoided to keep further complications at bay;
- Anybody diagnosed with osteoporosis needs further evaluation for secondary causes and coexisting diseases, including bone cancer;
- Have a healthy balanced diet - aim to have plenty of fruit and vegetables - vegetables seem to increase bone mineral density, also known as bone density;
- Keeping tobacco off-limits is an important part of cancer prevention;
- Early diagnosis is the key to effective treatment before metastasis. Consulting a doctor for screening and detection before the onset of a more damaging stage is vital.