Cancer of the hip is characterized by the development of cancerous cells in the bones, joints and/or tissues of the hips. This illness, which can also be caused by cancer that has spread to the hips from other areas of the body, can be extremely painful and is often quite serious in nature. The following is an in-depth look at cancer of the hip, which includes information regarding symptoms, causes, treatment options and more.
Types of Hip Cancer
Bone cancers are categorized according to type, location and other factors. Aside from cancers that have metastasized to the bone, the most common types include the following:
- Ewing’s sarcoma. Ewing’s sarcoma is thought to develop in the nerve tissues of the bones. This type of bone cancer typically affects children and young adults, but can affect older individuals as well.
- Osteosarcoma. Most commonly found in children and young adults, this type of cancer develops in the bone cells.
- Chondrosarcoma. Chondrosarcoma typically develops in the soft tissue found at the ends of the bones. Although it can affect individuals of all ages, it is most often seen in older patients.
Hip Cancer Symptoms
Although the signs and effects of this illness can vary, hip cancer symptoms often include the following:
- Unexplained pain in the hip and surrounding areas. In most cases, the pain associated with bone cancer is described as dull and aching; however, many patients report sharp, shooting pains as well.
- Swelling and tenderness in the affected areas.
- Reduced mobility as a result of a weakened hip.
- The presence of a lump or mass in the affected area.
- Fractures or breaks in the hips, which are the result of weakened bone and tissue.
- Chronic fatigue and loss of energy. In some patients, these symptoms are exacerbated by insomnia and other sleep disturbances.
- Unintended or unexplained weight loss.
Causes of Hip Bone Cancer
Although the exact cause of hip bone cancer of the hip has yet to be determined, there are a number of factors which may contribute to the development of this disease. For example, common risk factors associated with this type of cancer include the following:
- Inherited disorders. Certain genetic disorders have been shown to increase the risks associated with bone cancer. Of these, hereditary retinoblastoma and Li-Fraumeni syndrome are the most common. Plus, studies show that having a close blood relative with bone cancer increases an individual’s risk of developing the disease themselves.
- Paget’s disease of the bone. This disorder is characterized by the presence of precancerous cells in the bone, which can eventually result in a cancer diagnosis.
- Radiation therapy. Patients who have received radiation therapy are at an increased risk of developing bone cancer.
- Unhealthy lifestyle choices. Studies show that certain lifestyle factors, such as smoking, unbalanced diet, inactivity, etc., can increase the risks associated with cancer of the hip.
- Environmental factors. Exposure to certain chemicals and other hazardous substances can lead to the development of cancerous cells.
- Poor immunity. A compromised immune system can increase the risks associated with hip or bone cancers. Individuals with poor immunity include patients with HIV or AIDS as well as those who have received an organ transplant or are taking corticosteroid drugs.
Testing and Diagnostic Procedures
When it comes to testing and diagnostics, a number of techniques are used. For example, the following procedures are common in diagnosing cancer of the hip:
- Imaging tests. A number of imaging tests can be used to diagnose bone cancer. Of these, bone scans, MRIs, X-rays and PET scans are the most common.
- Biopsy. During a biopsy, an oncologist removes a piece of the affected bone or tissue and sends it to a laboratory for further testing. These laboratory tests can determine if the sample is benign or malignant. In cases of malignancy, lab tests can also help in determining prognosis and the type of cancer present.
Treatment of Hip Bone Cancer
In treating this condition, options can vary according to type of cancer, prognosis, the patient’s overall health and other factors. However, methods like the ones listed below are often used in the treatment of bone cancer.
- Surgery. In some cases, surgery can be used to treat cancer of the hip. The goal of these procedures is to remove all areas affected by cancer as well as the surrounding healthy tissues. For some patients, surgery to remove the entire hip may be necessary; however, hip-replacement procedures can be used to improve mobility and restore quality of life.
- Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy can have a number of benefits in the treatment of bone cancer. For example, following surgery, radiation therapy can be used to eradicate any remaining cancerous cells. Also, this option is often used in patients who, for whatever reason, are unable to undergo surgery to remove cancerous cells. Lastly, in patients with advanced bone cancer, this therapy can be used to manage pain and improve quality of life.
- Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy drugs are often used in treating cancer of the hip. These medications are typically administered intravenously, and are used to shrink, destroy or halt the spread of cancerous cells. Although chemotherapy can be effective in destroying cancerous cells, it can lead to a number of uncomfortable side effects, some of which include nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue and more.
- Pain management drugs. In order to address the pain and discomfort associated with bone cancer, patients are often given pain-relieving medications. While some patients may only require over-the-counter analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, others need prescription strength narcotics and other medications.
Coping with Hip Cancer
Coping with cancer can be challenging, no matter the circumstances. However, there are a number of resources available to patients with this disease. For example, joining support groups, making healthier lifestyle choices and educating oneself on the many aspects of cancer can prove helpful in coping with this illness.