Bone cancer is often associated with the metastatic cancer or cancer that originally came from other parts of the body other than the bone itself. In rare cases, the cancer is from bone building cells that mutates and facilitate the growth of cancerous tumors. This cancer can be very destructive to the bones and to the whole body as it progresses. Early detection is a key element in improving one’s prognosis with bone cancer. This kind of cancer however is not at all common to adults instead it commonly afflicts children and adolescents. Children and teenagers are prone to bone cancer because of their higher levels of growth and bone development. Bone cancer are often seen first in the upper arm or lower knees and can bring with it symptoms & signs such as pain and swelling and increased risks to fractures caused by the weakening of the bones. The presence of cancer to the structure of the bone compromises its ability to support weight that even the slightest accident can result to broken bones.
The first step is diagnosis. Through X-rays, Magnetic Resolution Imaging (MRI), Computerized Tomography (CT), Positron Emission Tomography (PET), and bone biopsy, the cancer and its current status in the body can be better understood. For doctors to have a better means to clearly describe the severity of the bone cancer there are staging and grading methods they can refer to. These stages and grades are used by doctors to determine the best course of action for each bone cancer patient. Staging ensures that every bone cancer sufferer will receive the best intervention he needs for his unique cancer case. Stage 4 bone cancer life expectancy could be as high as 49 percent and as low 19 percent. The difference between these figures depends on many things. However early detection can make all the difference.
This stage is referred to as carcinoma in situ implying that the cancer cells in the bone are small, low grade, and are localized inside the bone with no hints of spreading to nearby tissues.
For bone cancer stage IA the cancer is deemed low grade with a tumor size less than 8cm. Stage IB bone cancer on the other hand means that the tumor is more than 8cm in size or is growing in more than one location in the bone.
Stage 2 bone cancer means that the tumor is high grade. For stage 2A the cancer is less than 8cm in size with no lymph node involvement. For stage 2B the cancer is high grade and the tumor size is more than 8cm.
Stage 3 bone cancer means that the tumor is high grade and that it is present in more than one location on the same bone.
Bone cancer stage 4 means that the cancer is metastatic or has begun spreading to other parts of the body. Stage 4A means that the cancer has already spread to the lung while stage 4B means that the cancer has already spread to the lymph nodes and distant bones and organs in the body.
What is the stage 4 bone cancer prognosis? Bone cancer prognosis varies a lot from one case to the next as there are numerous variables that need to be considered. The average figure for stage 4 bone cancer survival rate in 5 years is set at 19 to 49 percent. It will all depend on the success of the chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and of course the timeliness of the surgery.
The good news is there is hope to be bone cancer-free especially if it is detected early.
Chemotherapy is the introduction of cancer fighting drugs to the body. Chemotherapy however needs to be used extensively in last stage bone cancer where the tumor is already huge and the cancer cells already metastasized to the other parts of the body. Chemotherapy carries a lot of disadvantages including causing the death of healthy cells in the body. However this is very effective in arresting the rapid progression of the disease. Chemotherapy is often done again after surgery to increase the chances of neutralizing the cancer cells all over the body for good.
Surgical procedures for stage IV bone cancer is often directed at amputating affected limb/s. Surgery is often seen as a means to physically stop the progression of the bone cancer. Surgery is not limited to the extraction of the areas in the body where the cancer is primarily located. It can also be used to remove cancer cells in other parts of the body where the cancer metastasized. This last ditch effort can help elongate the life of the person with the last stage cancer although its overall effect to the cancer itself is very limited.
Radiation therapy is also done to stop the progression of the cancer especially on its last stages. This focuses radiation to affected areas in the body killing the cancer cells and stopping it spread to the body. This is done to the patient together with chemotherapy to maximize its effects to the cancer. The disadvantage of radiation therapy is the excessive exposure of the patient to radiation that can cause recurring cancer in the bone.