Causes and Types

Causes

It's not clear what causes most bone cancers. Doctors know bone cancer begins as an error in a cell's DNA. The error tells the cell to grow and divide in an uncontrolled way. These cells go on living, rather than dying at a set time. The accumulating mutated cells form a mass (tumor) that can invade nearby structures or spread to other areas of the body.

Types

Bone cancers are broken down into separate types based on the type of cell where the cancer began. The most common types of bone cancer include:

  • Osteosarcoma.
  • Chondrosarcoma.
  • Ewing's sarcoma.
  • Metastasis.

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Osteosarcoma

An osteosarcoma is a cancerous tumor in a bone. Specifically, it is an aggressive malignant neoplasm that arises from primitive transformed cells of mesenchymal origin (and thus a sarcoma) and that exhibits osteoblastic differentiation and produces malignant osteoid.
Osteosarcoma is the most common histological form of primary bone cancer. It is most prevalent in children and young adults.

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Chondrosarcoma

Chondrosarcoma is a cancer composed of cells derived from transformed cells that produce cartilage. Chondrosarcoma is a member of a category of tumors of bone and soft tissue known as sarcomas. About 30% of skeletal system cancers are chondrosarcomas.
It is resistant to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Unlike other primary bone cancers that mainly affect children and adolescents, chondrosarcoma can present at any age. It more often affects the axial skeleton than the appendicular skeleton.

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Ewing's sarcoma

Ewing's sarcoma is a malignant small, round, blue cell tumor. It is a rare disease in which cancer cells are found in the bone or in soft tissue. The most common areas in which it occurs are the pelvis, the femur, the humerus, the ribs and clavicle (collar bone).

Ewing's sarcoma occurs most frequently in teenagers and young adults, with a male/female ratio of 1.6:1. Although usually classified as a bone tumour, Ewing's sarcoma can have characteristics of both mesodermal and ectodermal origin, making it difficult to classify.

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Metastasis

Metastasis is the spread of a cancer or other disease from one organ or part of the body to another without being directly connected with it. The new occurrences of disease thus generated are referred to as metastases (mets).
Cancer occurs after a single cell in a tissue is progressively genetically damaged to produce cells with uncontrolled proliferation. This uncontrolled proliferation by mitosis produces a primary heterogeneic tumour. The cells which constitute the tumor eventually undergo metaplasia, followed by dysplasia then anaplasia, resulting in a malignant phenotype. This malignancy allows for invasion into the circulation, followed by invasion to a second site for tumorigenesis.