Treatment for bone cancer

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Bone cancer treatment in India:

Can bone cancer be cured? Most certainly. A multidisciplinary team of doctors including an orthopaedic surgeon, a clinical oncologist, a radiation oncologist, and trained cancer nurses will manage your bone cancer treatment at a specialized centre.

Bone cancer can affect anyone in the body. However, it usually begins at the pelvis or long bones in the arms and legs. Bone cancer is very rare and doesn’t even make up 1% of the total amount of cancers. Bone cancer does not include cancer that starts elsewhere and spreads to the bone. Those cancers are named after where they began, for example, breast cancer that has metastasized to the bone.

Your bone cancer treatment plan will depend on the types of bone cancer, grade, and stage of bone cancer. Your age and overall health are also given a major consideration before finalizing the treatment plan. Be aware of bone cancer signs and symptoms before it is too late and be sure to get a bone cancer diagnosis as soon as possible. This article gives you detailed information about the treatment of bone cancer & the associated cost and helps you plan your treatment in India. 

What are the treatment options for bone cancer?

The following options are used for the treatment of bone cancer. Your doctor may use one or more of them in a combination depending on your condition:

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Surgery:

Surgery is the most common treatment option used for the treatment of bone cancer in combination with other modalities. Nowadays doctors try to do limb-sparing surgery but many patients will require an amputation. It is followed by the prognosis of bone cancer.

  • Limb-Sparing Surgery:

    The symptoms of bone cancer include pain and swelling in the area. It is a boon for patients and with the Limb-sparing surgery, the doctor will remove only the cancerous growth along with the surrounding tissue which cancer cells might have invaded. The possibility of bone cancer surgery depends on the stage of bone cancer.

    In this case, after removal of the cancerous bone, an artificial metal rod or a prosthesis of biocompatible material is used to join the two ends. In some cases of bone cancer treatment, bone is harvested from some other part of the body and used for this purpose. In the cases, where cancerous growth involves joints like knee or hip joint, a Total Knee Replacement Surgery or Total Hip Replacement Surgery is done along with this surgery.

  • Amputation:

    In some cases, amputation will be the only option viable for the treatment of bone cancer as amputation increases the survival rate of patients. Amputation will be required in the following cases:

    • If the cancer cells have already invaded the major blood vessels and nerves in the region or the growth of cancer is so extensive that the limb cannot be saved.
    • If after the limb-sparing surgery, the prosthesis gets rejected by the body causing an infection.
    • If the cancerous growth is in the part of the bone like the ankle, where limb-sparing surgery is not feasible.

It always comes as a big shock to patients if they have to get an amputation. So, the team of doctors can arrange supportive therapy if required. These days, even after amputation, patients can lead an almost normal life with advanced prosthetic artificial legs. They can even run, dance and walk with the newly advanced prosthesis.

Chemotherapy:

Chemotherapy is usually given before bone cancer surgery to shrink the size of the tumour. It can also be given in combination with radiotherapy before surgery. Chemo is given in some aggressive types of bone cancer after surgery to prevent cancer cells from growing back. Or else, if the cancer is not curable, chemotherapy is used to limit it and reduce symptoms.

Chemotherapy usually involves a combination of drugs given through intravenous (IV) therapy. The treatment is given in cycles. The patient receives these drugs for a few days and then these are stopped for the body to have a normal count of cells again and then it is given again.

There are some common side effects of chemotherapy as the drugs also damage the normal cells along with cancer cells but you do not need to worry as these side-effects are temporary and will subside once you stop consuming chemotherapy drugs. The side-effects of chemotherapy are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Temporary hair loss
  • Risk of infection
  • Tiredness
  • Infertility

The approximate cost of chemotherapy for the treatment of bone cancer is $450 in India.

Radiation Therapy:

It is given either before or after the surgery with the combination of chemotherapy (in some cases). Radiotherapy involves the use of high beam radiation to destroy cancer cells. It is usually given in daily sessions for five days a week. Radiation therapy also has side effects which are:

  • Reddened skin
  • Feeling sick
  • Joint pain in the radiated part
  • Hair loss

The approximate cost of radiation therapy for the treatment of bone cancer is $2800 – $3400 in India.

Cryotherapy:

Cryotherapy is using liquid nitrogen or argon gas to destroy cancer cells. In this therapy, a hollow instrument known as cryoprobe is used to inject liquid nitrogen or argon gas in cancer-affected areas of the bone, the doctors use MRI or ultrasound to guide the instrument to the affected areas of the bone so that the healthy parts of the tissue nearby do not get damaged. This results in the tissue that has been frozen to get thawed out which is later absorbed by the body.

Recovery and rehabilitation after treatment:

The recovery involves many physiotherapy sessions and occupational therapy to teach you to cope up with the day to day situations after an amputation or a limb-sparing surgery. You will also receive a bone cancer prognosis at this time to determine whether further treatment is required.

What do you need to do to prepare yourself for the treatment of bone cancer?

  • The first and foremost thing that you need to do is keep yourself well informed about your cancer, this improves your quality of life as this can make the disease seem less mysterious and frightening. Information from your doctor and other credible sources can be very helpful in this respect.
  • When a person is diagnosed with cancer it hurts their emotional state, so you need to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. This can be done by being transparent with your family and friends about how you feel, the problems you have been facing so they can help you in a better way. And as a peer or a family member of the patient, you must support them at all times by listening to them patiently as they are emotionally compromised.
  • You can avail services of a counsellor or attend group therapies consisting of cancer survivors who share their past experiences.
  • Writing down about your queries, problems, new symptoms, any physical changes, medications, past medical reports and other important things will help you to clearly express yourself to the doctor.

The checklist given below will help you in planning your treatment in India:

checklist to help people plan their treatment in India at an affordable cost.
(click on image to zoom)

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