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