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Bone Cancer Treatment

MD Anderson is one of the most active bone cancer treatment programs in the world.

Because MD Anderson’s Sarcoma Center surgeons see only sarcoma patients – and more of them than most programs – they have a high level of expertise and experience that may translate into a higher chance for successful treatment.

If you are diagnosed with bone cancer, your doctor will discuss the
best options to treat it. This depends on several factors, including the
type and stage of the cancer and your general health.

Your treatment for bone cancer will be customized to your particular needs.

One or more of the following therapies may be recommended to treat bone cancer or help relieve symptoms.

Surgery

Surgery is the main treatment for most bone cancers. Both the biopsy and surgery should be done by a surgeon with extensive experience in these procedures. A biopsy in the wrong location can cause surgical problems and lower your chances of successful treatment.

If at all possible, the same surgeon should perform both the biopsy and surgery. The biopsy will help the surgeon locate the tumor more precisely. The goal of surgery is to remove as much of the cancer as possible. If any cancer cells remain, they may grow and spread. To get as much of the cancer as possible, the surgeon performs a wide-excision surgery. This involves removing the cancer, as well as a margin of healthy tissue around it.

If the tumor is in an arm or leg, the surgeon almost always is able to perform limb-sparing surgery, which removes the cancer cells but allows you to keep full use of your leg or arm. To replace bone that is removed during surgery, a bone graft may be done or an internal device called an endoprosthesis may be implanted.

If this is not possible, an amputation, or removal of the limb, may be performed. Reconstructive surgery and/or a prosthesis will be needed. Rehabilitation is necessary after either procedure.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy may be recommended to treat osteosarcoma or Ewing’s sarcoma. In osteosarcoma, it is often given before surgery to shrink the tumor and make it easier to remove, and after surgery to destroy remaining cancer cells. Chemotherapy is also used for bone cancer that has metastasized (spread) to the lungs or other organs.

Radiation Therapy

Bone cancer is not highly sensitive to radiation, so radiation usually is not a treatment. It sometimes may be given if the tumor cannot be operated on or if cancer cells remain after surgery. Radiation may help relieve symptoms if bone cancer returns.

New radiation therapy techniques and remarkable skill allow MD Anderson doctors to target tumors more precisely, delivering the maximum amount of radiation with the least damage to healthy cells.

Proton Therapy

Proton therapy delivers high radiation doses directly into the tumor, sparing nearby healthy tissue and vital organs. The Proton Therapy Center at MD Anderson is one of the world’s largest and most advanced centers. 

Targeted Therapy

These newer agents are used to help fight some types of bone cancer, including chordoma. Targeted therapies attack cancer cells by using small molecules to block pathways that cells use to survive and multiply.

Treatment at MD Anderson

Bone cancer is treated in our Sarcoma Center.

Clinical Trials

MD Anderson patients have access to clinical trials offering promising new treatments that cannot be found anywhere else.

Knowledge Center

Find the latest news and information about bone cancer in our Knowledge Center, including blog posts, articles, videos, news releases and more.

Counseling

MD Anderson has licensed social workers to help patients and their loved ones cope with cancer.

myCancerConnection

Talk to someone who shares your cancer diagnosis and be matched with a survivor.

Prevention & Screening

Many cancers can be prevented with lifestyle changes and regular screening.