What are Malignant Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors?
Malignant bone and soft tissue tumors, also known as sarcomas, are cancerous growths which start developing in the bones or soft tissues such as tendons, muscles, fat, nerves, and blood vessels. There are different types of sarcomas and treatments vary depending on the location, severity, and type of the tumors.
Types of Malignant Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors
The different types of malignant bone tumors include:
- Osteosarcoma: This is the most common type of tumor that usually occurs in the thigh, shin, and arm bone. The cells of this tumor produce bone tissue.
- Chondrosarcoma: This is a rare type of malignant bone tumor that develops in the bone and tissues surrounding the hip, pelvis, and shoulder joints. The cells that form this tumor produce cartilage tissue.
- Malignant Fibrous Tumor of Bone: This is a rare malignant bone tumor that forms fibrous tissue. It is usually seen in the long bones of the lower extremities.
- Adamantinoma: This is a rare malignant bone tumor that occurs usually in the shinbone that is made of fibrous cells and cells that line the outer surface of the body (epithelial cells).
- Ewing’s Sarcoma: This is a highly malignant bone tumor that is seen in the leg bones of children between the ages of 10 to 20 years. It is made up of small round cells of unknown origin.
- Metastatic Skeletal Bone Tumors: These are malignant tumors that originate in other tissues and spread to the bone.
The different types of soft tissue malignant tumors include:
- Liposarcoma: This tumor originates in the fat tissue.
- Leiomyosarcoma: This tumor originates in the muscle tissue.
- Undifferentiated Pleomorphic Sarcoma: It is a rapidly growing malignant soft tissue tumor commonly found in the arms and legs.
- Rhabdomyosarcoma: It is a rare, malignant soft tissue tumor commonly seen in children.
- Angiosarcoma: This is a malignant soft tissue tumor that develops from the inner lining of blood vessels.
Causes of Malignant Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors
Although the exact cause is unclear, it is possible that mutations to the DNA in the cells may cause uncontrollable growth of the tumors when triggered by certain conditions.
Risk Factors for Malignant Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors
Some of the risk factors for malignant bone and soft tissue include:
- Radiation therapy
- Exposure to chemicals
- Exposure to viruses
- Inherited conditions such as neurofibromatosis type 1 and retinoblastoma
Symptoms of Malignant Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors
Common signs and symptoms of malignant bone and soft tissue tumors include:
- Bone pain
- Fractures from low-energy trauma
- A lump that can be felt through the skin
- Unexplained abdominal pain
- Unexplained weight loss
Diagnosis of Malignant Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors
Diagnosis of malignant bone and soft tissue tumors can be made by:
- Physical Exam: This is done to evaluate signs and symptoms.
- Imaging Studies: These include X-rays and bone scans to identify bone abnormalities; MRI scans to identify connective tissue abnormalities; CT scans, PET scans, and bone scans to evaluate the extent of cancer spread to other parts of the body.
- Biopsy: A sample of the tumor may be obtained and examined under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment of Malignant Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors
The different types of treatment for malignant bone and soft tissue tumors include:
- Surgery: Surgical excision is performed to remove the tumor completely or as much as possible without injury to important nerves, blood vessels, and organs.
- Radiation Therapy: This involves the use of high-energy beams or material to destroy cancers cells that cannot be surgical removed.
- Chemotherapy: This involves the use of special chemicals to destroy cancer cells
- Ablation Therapy: This involves the use of electricity, cold liquid, or ultrasound waves to destroy the cancer cells.
- Immunotherapy: This involves the use of drugs that help the cells of the immune system destroy the cancer cells.
- Targeted Therapy: This involves the use of drugs which specifically target any weakness in the cancer cells minimizing damage to healthy tissue.