What are the different stages of bone cancer?

3 answers | Last updated: Oct 26, 2016
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What are the different stages of bone cancer?

Expert Answers

Harvey Gilbert, MD, is a radiation oncologist with more than 35 years of professional experience in the medical field, working with cancer patients. He has edited 14 medical textbooks and coauthored 40 papers in the field of oncology. Dr. Gilbert is the medical director of the Ben Schaffer Cancer Institute in Lodi, California.

The term bone cancer has several meanings. Thus what is meant by bone cancer stages depends on the type of cancer, as described below. The word bone cancer means a malignant tumor that involves bone, either secondarily (metastasis from another site) or primarily (arising directly from within bone).

The types of malignant tumors are multiple.

The first type, and the most common, is a cancer that has arisen from some other organ and has spread to the bone (metastasis). These tumors can involve just the bone or multiple other organs as well. Thus, by definition, they are usually called a Stage 4, since they have spread from somewhere else in the body. The most common of these come from the breast, lung and prostate, but any cancer can cause bone spread. Of interest, some tumors, by their size alone, can directly involve bone and invade the bone. The later are not referred to as metastasis or Stage 4 spread.

The second type arises directly from in the substance of the bone, its coverings or the cartilage that cushions the bone. These tumors are staged very differently and are called sarcomas. They can remain localized, but at times they can spread to other organs such as other bones. Thus if a bone sarcoma spreads to another bone it would be a Stage 4 bone cancer.

The third type is a cancer of the bone marrow that lies within bones and arises from the stem cells that produce blood cells residing in the bone marrow. Some of these are myeloma, leukemia, lymphoma. Their staging is unique to each of them and there is no specific staging that is universal to all.

Of interest, when tumors involve bone, they destroy the structure of the bone (calcium and bone structure) and we are now using medicines that help restore bone structure and calcium as part of our cancer therapy. Some of these medicines have been found to fight the cancer as well.

I hope this helps...

Community Answers

Ladonna59 answered...

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Blueyedlady answered...

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