The bones in an individual's body are hollow. Light, spongy bone tissue sits inside of a hard outer bone layer called the cortical layer. The bone marrow sits inside of a space referred to as the medullary cavity. Any type of cancer can spread to the bone tissues, but cancer that starts from a bone cell is referred to as primary bone cancer. There are several types of bone cancer, including chondrosarcoma, osteosarcoma, Ewing tumor, malignant fibrous histiocytoma, fibrosarcoma, giant cell tumor of bone, and chordoma. Common symptoms that manifest in bone cancer patients include swelling, pain, fractures, weight loss, fatigue, trouble swallowing, numbness, tingling, and weakness. Bone cancer is diagnosed using CT scans, x-rays, MRI scans, PET scans, radionuclide bone scans, and bone biopsy.
Most bone cancer patients will need to undergo tumor resection for treatment. Tumor resection is a procedure used to remove the cancerous tumor and some of the tissues surrounding the tumor. In a tumor resection for bone cancer, the goal is for the surgeon to remove as much cancer as possible, while also saving as many neighboring vessels, nerves, and tendons. Individuals with bone cancer that has spread into these tissues cannot have a successful tumor resection that spares their limb physically and functionally. The section of bone containing the malignancy is cut out entirely, and the remaining ends of the bone are reconnected with an endoprosthesis or bone graft. The bone graft or endoprosthesis is meant to replace the section of bone that has been removed. Over time, the remaining bone fuses to the graft or endoprosthesis, allowing it to function normally. A tumor resection often requires long and intense rehabilitation during recovery to learn how to use the limb again.