Bone cancers are rare forms of cancer that can affect any bone in the body. Two types of bone cancer are multiple myeloma and bone sarcomas. About 2,000 primary bone cancers are diagnosed in the United States each year. Bone cancers can also happen when tumors that start in other organs, such as breasts, lung, and prostate, metastasize (spread) to the bone. Multiple myeloma is the most common type of bone cancer. The two most common bone sarcomas are osteosarcoma, which develops in new tissue in growing bones, and chondrosarcoma, which develops in cartilage. Osteosarcoma occurs more frequently in people ages 10 - 20, while chondrosarcoma occurs more often in adults.
Bone cancer is accompanied by the following signs and symptoms:
People with the following conditions or characteristics may be at risk for developing multiple myeloma:
People with the following conditions or characteristics may be at risk for developing osteosarcoma:
Your risk of developing chondrosarcoma is higher if you are age 40 - 60.
If you have symptoms associated with bone cancer, you should see your health care provider. It's helpful to remember that many symptoms of bone cancer are also associated with other, less serious health conditions. In addition to taking a personal and family medical history, your health care provider may suggest a blood test to measure the level of alkaline phosphate, an enzyme that increases when a tumor causes production of abnormal bone tissue. X-rays and other imaging procedures can show the location, size, and shape of a bone tumor. New research suggests that combination positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) may be the most sensitive technique for detecting bone cancers. Not all tumors are cancer. A biopsy -- the removal of a sample of tissue from the bone tumor -- will reveal whether cancer is present.
The treatment plan depends on the type, size, location, and stage of the cancer, as well as the patient's age and general health.
Your health care provider may prescribe the following therapies:
With multiple myeloma, a physician may perform a bone marrow transplant. With bone sarcomas, surgery is often the main treatment. In most cases, chemotherapy has made limb sparing surgery possible and amputation unnecessary.
A comprehensive treatment plan for bone cancer may include a range of complementary and alternative therapies. Make sure to inform your health care provider about the herbs and supplements you are taking. Some supplements can interfere with conventional cancer therapies, so always work with a qualified health care professional, and tell all of your providers about every herb, supplement, medication, and treatment you are using.
Following these nutritional tips may help reduce symptoms:
You may address nutritional deficiencies with the following supplements. Consult your oncologist before adding any nutritional supplements or herbal medicines to your regimen.
Herbs are generally a safe way to strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, you should work with your health care provider to diagnose your problem before starting treatment.
You may use herbs as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, make teas with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 - 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 - 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 - 4 cups per day. You may use tinctures alone or in combination as noted.
The correct herbal therapy may be an important part of a cancer treatment plan, but should only be used under the supervision of an experienced provider knowledgeable in oncology, and working in conjunction with your team of oncologists.
Although very few studies have examined the effectiveness of specific homeopathic therapies, professional homeopaths may consider the following remedies for the treatment of bone cancer based on their knowledge and experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account a person's constitutional type -- a person's physical, emotional, and psychological makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate treatment for each individual. Homeopathic treatment, especially in the case of cancer, should only be used with guidance from a licensed and certified homeopath.
While acupuncture is not used as a treatment for cancer itself, evidence suggests it can be a valuable therapy for cancer related symptoms (particularly nausea and vomiting that often accompany chemotherapy treatment). Studies indicate that acupuncture may help reduce pain and shortness of breath. Acupressure (pressing on rather than needling acupuncture points) has also proved useful in controlling breathlessness. Patients can learn this technique to treat themselves.
Some acupuncturists prefer to work with a patient only after the completion of conventional medical cancer therapy. Others provide acupuncture or herbal therapy during active chemotherapy or radiation. Acupuncturists treat cancer patients based on an individualized assessment of the excesses and deficiencies of qi (energy) located in various meridians. In many cancer related cases, a qi deficiency is usually detected in the spleen or kidney meridians.
Chiropractors will not perform spinal manipulation over areas of the body where bone cancer is present, but they may use this procedure over areas that are free of bone cancer in an attempt to relieve pain associated with the condition.
Patients with multiple myeloma generally live for 15 months to 5 years. Complications may include heart attack, lung disease, diabetes, and stroke. With bone sarcomas, 65 - 75% of patients experience long-term survival. Potential complications include those arising from surgery and possible spread of the cancer to the lungs.
Your health care provider will want to see you regularly to check for complications and to make sure the cancer has not returned.
Cancer - bone
Baker L. Goldman: Cecil Medicine, 23rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, An Imprint of Elsevier; 2007.
Bast A, Haenen GR. Lipoic acid: a multifunctional antioxidant. Biofactors. 2003;17(1-4):207-13.
Bauer JD, Capra S. Nutrition intervention improves outcomes in patients with cancer cachexia receiving chemotherapy--a pilot study. Support Care Cancer. 2005;13(4):270-4.
Baur JA, Sinclair DA. Therapeutic potential of resveratrol: the in vivo evidence. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2006;5(6):493-506.
Boros LG, Nichelatti M, Shoenfeld Y. Fermented wheat germ extract (Avemar) in the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005;1051:529-42.
Buijs Jt, van der Pluijm G. Osteotropic cancers: from primary tumor to bone. Cancer Lett. 2009;273(2):177-93.
Cabrera C, Artacho R, Gimenez R. Beneficial effects of green tea--a review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2006;25(2):79-99.
Dawson-Hughes B. Calcium and protein in bone health. Proc Nutr Soc. 2003;62(2):505-9.
Doron S, Gorbach SL. Probiotics: their role in the treatment and prevention of disease. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2006;4(2):261-75.
Dryden GW Jr, Deaciuc I, Arteel G, McClain CJ. Clinical implications of oxidative stress and antioxidant therapy. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2005;7(4):308-16.
Dunstan CR, Felsenberg D, Seibel MJ. Therapy insight: the risks and benefits of bisphosphonates for the treatment of tumor-induced bone disease. Nat Clin Pract Oncol. 2007;4(1):42-55.
Goggs R, Vaughan-Thomas A, Clegg PD, et al. Nutraceutical therapies for degenerative joint diseases: a critical review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2005;45(3):145-64.
Hicks RJ, Ware RE, Lau EW. PET/CT: will it change the way that we use CT in cancer imaging? Cancer Imaging. 2006;6:S52-62.
Kelemen LE, Cerhan JR, Lim U, et al. Vegetables, fruit, and antioxidant-related nutrients and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma: a National Cancer Institute-Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results population-based case-control study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83(6):1401-10.
Klein A, Olendrowitz C, Schmutzler R, et al. Identification of brain- and bone-specific breast cancer metastasis genes. Cancer Lett. 2009;276(2):212-20.
Labinskyy N, Csiszar A, Veress G, et al. Vascular dysfunction in aging: potential effects of resveratrol, an anti-inflammatory phytoestrogen. Curr Med Chem. 2006;13(9):989-96.
Lichtenstein AH, Russell RM. Essential nutrients: food or supplements? Where should the emphasis be? JAMA. 2005;294(3):351-8.
MacLean CH, Newberry SJ, Mojica WA, et al. Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on cancer risk: a systematic review. JAMA. 2006;295(4):403-15. Review.
Simopoulos AP. Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002;21(6):495-505.
Tsuya A, Fukuoka M. Behavior of malignant tumor in bone. Bone metastases in lung cancer. Clin Calcium. 2008;18(4):455-9.
Usui T. Pharmaceutical prospects of phytoestrogens. Endocr J. 2006;53(1):7-20
Yoon JH, Baek SJ. Molecular targets of dietary polyphenols with anti-inflammatory properties. Yonsei Med J. 2005;46(5):585-96.
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885