Diagnosing and Treating Bone Tumors

largest-bone-human-body_594e6a7f930a27d3Tumors occur when cells divide at a rate that is both uncontrollable and abnormal.

A lump or a mass of tissue that forms in the bones is called a bone tumor.

Tumors can be malignant or benign.

Benign bone tumors are considered non-fatal or harmless.

Malignant tumors on the other hand are life-threatening.

There is also a big likelihoodthe cancer cells will spread to other parts of the body.


  • There are no known causes for bone tumors.
  • However, some likely causes of the condition have been identified.
  • Some of the possible causes include genetics, bone injuries, and radiation.
  • For instance, osteosarcoma has been traced to the use of high doses of radiation and anticancer medications.
  • In addition, patients with metal implants (used in bone fracture repairs) are believed to be more prone to developing osteosarcoma.


Some of the most prevalent symptoms of bone tumor include:

  • Dull ache – one of the most typical indicators of the condition is a dull ache felt in the bone affected. In most cases, it will start off as occasional. However, it will eventually become severe and constant over time.
  • Fever – patients with bone tumor are also likely to experience fever or night sweats. If fever does not manifest however, it is highly likely for the patient to notice tissue masses in different parts of the body.
  • Pathologic fracture – for bone tumors that have gone undetected, insignificant injuries can cause the affected and weakened bone to break. This condition is referred to as pathologic fracture. The condition is known to be severely painful. In some instances, swelling will manifest in the site of the tumor.


Infections, fractures, and other conditions can sometimes be mistaken for bone tumor.

That being said, a number of tests are often recommended to help guarantee an accurate diagnosis.

Some of the likely tests can include:

Imaging tests – to pinpoint the size as well as the exact location of the tumor, an X-ray would be needed.

Other imaging tests might be also be recommended depending on the X-ray results. Additional imaging tests that will likely be ordered can include:

  • Angiogram – provides an X-ray of the blood vessels
  • PET scan – can help pinpoint the location of the tumor
  • MRI scan – can provide a detailed picture of the suspected area
  • CT scan – can provide detailed images taken from different angles

Urine and blood tests – different proteins that might signal bone tumor (or other likely medical conditions) can be seen in the blood and urine samples.

An alkaline phosphatase test is one of the many tests that are performed when checking for bone tumor. Large quantities of the enzyme often indicates the condition.

Biopsies – may be required in order to get a better insight of the bone tumor.

There are 2 different types of biopsies:

  1. Needle biopsy – performed by inserting a needle into the bone of the patient. It is done in order to remove a small part of the tumor tissue.
  2. Incisional biopsy – this is otherwise known as open biopsy. Unlike needle biopsy, this procedure is performed in the operating room while the patient is under general anesthesia.

Treatment Options

Treatment intervention for bone tumors will depend on the severity of the condition and the type of the tumor.

Radiation – this treatment intervention is often carried out in conjunction with surgery. Before surgery is carried out, the tumor is shrank using high-dose X-ray. Radiation is also used to kill cancerous cells.

Chemotherapy – this is often the treatment approach for cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy makes use of anticancer drugs to get rid of cancerous cells.

Cryosurgery – this treatment intervention will make use of liquid nitrogen to kill the cancer cells. In some instances, cryosurgery is carried out instead of regular surgery.

Surgery – this is often the typical treatment option for bone cancer. During the surgery, the entire tumor is removed and the doctor wil make sure no cancerous cells are left.