Osteosarcoma-Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment


Osteosarcoma, also called osteogenic sarcoma, is a kind of bone cancer. It happens when the cells that grow new bone form a cancerous tumor. Treatment -- chemotherapy and surgery to take out the tumor -- is usually successful when the disease is diagnosed early, before it can spread.

Anyone can have osteosarcoma, but it’s the most common kind of bone cancer in children and teens. Teenage boys are most likely to get it. In children and teens, osteosarcoma often happens at the ends of long bones, where bone grows fastest.

Most tumors start around the knee, in either the lower part of the thighbone or the upper part of the shinbone.

They also may grow in the upper arm bone close to the shoulder.

But osteosarcoma can happen in any bone, especially in older adults, including your:

  • Pelvis
  • Shoulder
  • Skull


  • Swelling or lumps around bones or the ends of bones
  • Bone or joint pain or soreness. This pain may come and go for months.
  • Broken bones without a clear reason
  • Pain at night
  • Pain after exercise
  • Limping

Some limb pain and swelling are common in active, growing children. Talk to your doctor if these signs don’t go away in a couple of weeks or if they get worse.

Causes and Risk Factors

An error in your DNA, or your genetic code, causes osteosarcoma. Bone-growing cells make tumors by mistake.

Some things may make you more likely to get osteosarcoma, including:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Height

Treatments like radiation therapy for other types of cancer or cancer medicines called alkylating agents

Health conditions tied to your genes, like Paget’s disease of the bone, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Rothmund-Thomson syndrome, Bloom syndrome, Werner syndrome, Diamond-Blackfan anemia, or a type of eye cancer called hereditary retinoblastoma


Your appointment may include:

  • A medical history and physical exam
  • Imaging tests
  • Biopsy


Treatment works best when you start before the cancer spreads beyond your bones to other tissues or organs. Most people find tumors early because they cause pain, swelling, or a limp. Let your doctor know about warning signs like these so you can start treatment as soon as possible.

Most people with osteosarcoma need surgery and chemotherapy. Some also get radiation therapy.

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy

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Journal of Cancer Research and Immuno-Oncology

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