Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that starts in bone-forming cells. Osteosarcoma can cause the sufferer to be immobile, limp, and even fracture for no apparent reason.

Osteosarcoma can affect any bone, but is more common in long bones, such as the femur, shinbone, and upper arm bone. Usually, cancer cells will develop in the area of ​​the ends of the bones.

Osteosarcoma is   the most common type of bone cancer in children . Based on research, osteosarcoma often attacks boys, especially at the age of 15 years. However, osteosarcoma is also quite common in people older than 60 years.

Causes of Osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma occurs when genes in bone-forming cells undergo mutations or changes. This mutation causes bone-forming cells to continue to form new bone even when it is not needed.

The new bone will develop into a tumor that attacks and destroys healthy body tissue, then spreads to other parts of the body.

It is not known what causes the mutation in these bone-forming cells. However, there are several factors that are known to increase a person's risk of developing osteosarcoma, namely:

  • Have had treatment with radiotherapy and chemotherapy
  • Have other types of cancer, such as retinoblastoma
  • Have a genetic disorder, including Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Bloom syndrome, Werner syndrome, or Rothmund-Thomson syndrome
  • Have a bone disorder, such  as Paget's disease  or fibrous dysplasia

Symptoms of Osteosarcoma

Symptoms of osteosarcoma depend on the location of the bone affected by the tumor. The following are some of the signs and symptoms:

  • Limited movement of the body part affected by the tumor
  • Lame if the tumor is in the leg
  • Pain when lifting something if the tumor is in the hand
  • Cracks or fractures that can occur without cause
  • Pain, swelling, and redness of the skin in the area where the tumor grows
  • A lump that can feel warm or painful on the affected leg or hand

In some patients, osteosarcoma can also cause other symptoms, such as fever, unexplained weight loss, and night sweats.

When to go to the doctor

Immediately see a doctor if you or your child experience the above symptoms that occur continuously. Examination is necessary because the symptoms of osteosarcoma can be similar to those of other conditions, such as sports injuries.

If you or your child is new to treatment for osteosarcoma, keep checking with your doctor regularly. This aims to prevent the cancer from growing back.

Diagnosis of Osteosarcoma

To diagnose osteosarcoma, the doctor will first ask about the patient's symptoms, medical history, and medical history. After that, the doctor will perform a physical examination in the area suspected of having cancer.

To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will perform additional examinations, such as:

  • Scans with ultrasound, X-rays, CT scans,  PET scans , or MRIs, to detect cancer and see if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body
  • Tissue sampling ( biopsy ) from a swollen or diseased part of the body, to examine whether the tissue is cancerous or not
  • Blood tests, to measure alkaline phosphatase (AFP) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels and determine the severity of osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma Treatment

Treatment of osteosarcoma is done through surgery and chemotherapy. In some cases, doctors may also perform radiotherapy procedures. Here's the explanation:


Surgery aims to remove the entire cancer. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, doctors may perform surgery to remove only the cancer or remove muscle and other tissue affected by the cancer.

In some cases, doctors will remove bones and joints or even perform amputations . If the doctor decides to perform an amputation, the patient will be given a prosthesis (a prosthetic leg or arm) to replace the function of the amputated organ.


Chemotherapy  is the administration of drugs to kill cancer cells. Drugs given can be in the form of pills, infusions, or a combination of both. Chemotherapy may be given before surgery to shrink cancer cells so they are easier to remove.

The length of chemotherapy that patients need to undergo depends on the extent of the spread of the osteosarcoma. In osteosarcoma that has not spread widely, doctors may recommend chemotherapy several months before surgery.

Chemotherapy can also be done after surgery to kill any cancer that may still be left.


Radiotherapy  is a therapy that uses X-rays or proton beams to kill cancer cells. This therapy is done by directing the radiation beam to the part of the body where the osteosarcoma is located.

Radiotherapy is performed on patients who cannot undergo surgery or if there are still cancer cells remaining.

Complications of Osteosarcoma

There are several complications that can occur, both due to the osteosarcoma itself and the side effects of its treatment. Some of these complications are:

  • Cancer that has spread ( metastasized ) to other bones and lungs
  • Chemotherapy side effects, such as hair loss, nausea, and vomiting
  • Postoperative side effects, such as infection or slow healing
  • Difficulty adapting to using  prosthetics

Osteosarcoma Prevention

It is not known exactly how to prevent osteosarcoma. This is because the cause of osteosarcoma is not related to lifestyle or environmental factors. However, by undergoing appropriate treatment early on, the chances of osteosarcoma patients to recover are quite large.

For people who are new to treatment for osteosarcoma, do regular check-ups to the doctor to prevent the possibility of this disease recurring.

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