Osteosarcoma—ChildEn Español (Spanish Version)
Osteosarcoma is a common form of bone cancer. This cancer usually begins in cells called osteoblasts, which make bones. This type of cancer can spread to other parts of the body.
The cause is not known. There may be a genetic link.
Risk factors include:
Symptoms may include:
- Swelling or a lump at the location of the tumor (usually affects longer bones)
- Pain at the tumor location
- Difficulty moving the affected limb
- Deep bone pain severe enough to wake up your child
- Bone fractures
If your child has any of these symptoms, talk to the doctor right away.
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and do a medical history. A physical exam will also be done. Tests may include:
- Blood tests
—a test that uses radiation to take a picture of bones
- Bone scan
—a test that looks for bone tumors
- CT scan
—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of bones
- MRI scan
—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of bones
—removal of a sample of bone tissue to test for cancer cells
Once cancer is found, the doctor will do staging tests to find out if the cancer has spread. Treatment depends on the stage and location of the cancer. Talk with the doctor and healthcare team about the best treatment plan for your child. Options include:
is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body killing mostly cancer cells.
Surgery involves the removal of the tumor, nearby tissues, and nearby lymph nodes. Surgery may require
amputation of the limb
. Whenever possible, the doctor will try to remove the cancerous part of the bone without amputating. Sometimes, treatment with chemotherapy can help avoid the need for amputation.
With radiation therapy, radiation is directed at the tumor to kill the cancer cells.
Radiation of Tumor
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There is no known way to prevent this type of bone cancer.
National Cancer Institute
Children’s Hospital Boston. Osteosarcoma. Children’s Hospital Boston website. Available at:
. Accessed July 7, 2010.
DynaMed Editorial Team. Osteogenic sarcoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
. Updated June 30, 2010. Accessed July 7, 2010.
McCoy K. Bone cancer. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at:
. Updated September 2009. Accessed July 7, 2010.
Nemours Foundation. Childhood cancer: osteosarcoma. Kids Health website. Available at:
. Updated January 2008. Accessed July 7, 2010.
Last Reviewed June 2012