7 Myths About Bone Cancer
Posted October 25, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 3 min read
Bone cancer can begin in any bone in the body, but it most commonly affects the pelvis or the long bones in the arms and legs. Bone cancer is rare, making up less than 1 percent of all cancers. In fact, noncancerous bone tumors are much more common than cancerous ones.
Myth 1: A needle biopsy may disturb cancer cells and cause them to travel to other parts of the body
A correctly performed biopsy does not accelerate or alter the growth of cancer in any way
Myth 2: Biopsy is a minor procedure that someone not trained in bone cancer can perform. We should go to a specialized centre only once the biopsy report confirms cancer.
An improperly performed biopsy can make it difficult for the specialized team to save the patient’s limb and lead to amputation.
Biopsy should always be performed at a centre where limb salvage surgery is routinely performed.
Myth 3: The best way to handle bone cancer is to remove it entirely rather than going for a biopsy.
- Performing a biopsy first is the best way to approach cancer of bone because it gives us the exact nature (diagnosis) of cancer.
This has many implications:
It may not be cancer at all
It may be a tumour which can be tackled by curettage (cleaning) rather than completely removing the bone.
It may turn out to be cancer where the first or the only treatment required is medicines.
In fact, it may be something that does not require surgery at all.
Myth 4: Surgery causes cancer to spread. Hence, the best way to remove bone cancer is amputation.
There is no proof that a correctly performed limb-saving surgery causes the spread of cancer.
There is no difference in the survival of patients undergoing limb-saving surgery vs those undergoing amputation.
Myth 5: Everyone with the same kind of cancer gets the same kind of treatment
The treatment of bone cancer, as for all cancers, depends on the type and stage of cancer.
While myeloma/ lymphoma may need no surgery at all, osteosarcoma needs both chemotherapy and surgery, and chondrosarcoma is usually treated only with surgery.
Myth 6: I am sure my patient can’t withstand cancer treatment
All cancer treatment is offered to a patient only after the physician or surgeon is certain that the patient has the reserves to withstand that treatment, and the risks of treatment are significantly outweighed by the benefits of treatment.
The patient will undergo a detailed evaluation to ensure this, and any risks will be conveyed.
Myth 7: The treatment of bone cancer is only by amputation
At centres specialized in treating bone cancer, up to 90% of patients undergo a limb salvage surgery (or limb saving surgery).
It is established that the survival outcomes of patients undergoing limb-saving surgery are no different from those undergoing amputation.