Is Bone Cancer Curable

There are two basic types of bone cancer and answering is bone cancer curable greatly depends on the type of cancer and how early it is diagnosed.

The first type is a primary bone cancer which isn’t a common form of cancer with about 2,300 new cases each year.  Primary bone cancer starts in the bone and then spreads to another part of the body.  The ability to cure this cancer has improved dramatically in the past 30 years and has reached a 70 percent cure rate five years after the cancer is found (http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/Sep/26/bone-cancer-rare-difficult/).  Statistically speaking, with fast action, primarily detecting and treating in stage 1 & 2a when the cancer is typically still inside the bone and has not yet spread to other parts of the body, primary bone cancer can be successfully treated just like all other cancers through chemotherapy and radiation, however the actual outcome will vary on a lot of factors.  The thing to be aware of with primary bone cancer is that it’s a very quickly spreading cancer, and requires immediate attention.

According to Cancer Research UK, almost everyone with a stage 1A bone cancer lives for more than 5 years. More than 95% of people with a stage 1B bone cancer live for more than 5 years. An important factor in whether or not your bone cancer is curable is whether your surgeon can completely remove the cancer. Chemotherapy can work well at reducing the risk of the cancer coming back after surgery, particularly for Ewing’s sarcoma.

If the cancer has spread beyond the bone it is more difficult to cure, but more than 60% of people with stage 2A bone cancer live for more than 5 years. Just over 40% of people with stage 2B bone cancer live for more than 5 years. (http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/type/bone-cancer/treatment/statistics-and-outlook-for-bone-cancer)

The other form of bone cancer is called secondary or metastatic or “bone mets” which starts in another part of the body and relocates to the bone. The bone is a common site for metastasis and prostate, breast, and lung cancers are the most likely cancers to spread to the bone.  This secondary bone cancer has about 100,000 new cases each year (http://www.webmd.com/cancer/features/bone-metastasis-what-happens).  The ability to cure secondary bone cancer has not improved a much over the last 30 years like primary bone cancer has. Today, there are improved ways to manage the pain and prevent fractures, but in the vast majority of situations metastatic or secondary bone cancer is often times not curable but it is still possible to maintain a good quality of life.

Cancer is a very frightening diagnosis and you not hesitate to discuss all of your questions and concerns with your oncologist.  There are fewer than 150 board-certified orthopedic oncologists in the United States which have specialized training for the diagnosis and treatment of bone cancer, which can make it difficult to find adequate care, especially depending on how far you are from a major center.