Understanding Osteosarcoma Treatment: Limb-Salvage Surgery
The treatment of tumors is complicated, requiring the coordination of a highly trained team of specialists. This is especially true when it comes to benign and malignant tumors of bones, muscles, tendons, and joints—the primary focus of our Musculoskeletal Oncology division.
If you’ve been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, it’s crucial to know your options. Keep reading to learn more about typical osteosarcoma treatment approaches, including limb-salvage surgery.
What is Osteosarcoma?
Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that originates in the cells that form bones. While it can start in any bone, it is most often found in the long bones of the legs and occasionally the arms. In rare circumstances, osteosarcoma can occur in soft tissue outside the bone. This type of cancer most often occurs in young adults and teenagers, but it can also occur in older adults and younger children.
Causes and Risk Factors
At this point, it’s not clear what causes osteosarcoma. However, doctors know it forms when something goes wrong in one of the cells responsible for producing new bone. Specifically, it occurs when a healthy bone cell experiences changes in its DNA that encourages the cell to create new bone when it isn’t needed. This change results in a tumor comprised of poorly formed bone cells that can invade and destroy healthy body tissue. In addition, these bone cells can metastasize, or spread, throughout the body.
Certain factors may increase the risk of osteosarcoma, including other bone disorders such as Paget’s disease of bone and fibrous dysplasia, certain genetic or inherited conditions (e.g., hereditary retinoblastoma), or prior treatment with radiation therapy.
Osteosarcoma treatment typically includes chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. Your doctor will select treatment options based on where the osteosarcoma starts, the cancer’s size, the grade and type of the osteosarcoma, and whether the cancer has spread beyond the affected bone.
Even after the treatment’s completion, doctors may recommend lifelong monitoring to observe for potential after-effects of intense treatments.
What is Limb-Salvage Surgery?
Limb-salvage surgery, also known as limb-sparing surgery, is surgery that removes a tumor in a limb (such as an arm or leg) without removing the whole limb. It is used to treat cancers of the bone and soft tissue. During this procedure, a surgeon may also remove the bone and tissue surrounding the tumor, and an implant may be used to replace the part of the limb that has been removed. Doctors choose to perform limb-salvage surgery to save the use and appearance of the limb.
When it comes to osteosarcoma, a surgery that removes the tumor and spares the limb is used whenever possible. However, sometimes it’s necessary to remove part of the affected limb to remove all the cancer.
Schedule Osteosarcoma Treatment with Our Team Today
At Rutgers North Jersey Orthopaedic Institute (NJOI), our fellowship-trained specialists are renowned experts in treating musculoskeletal tumors. Together with a specialized team, they provide the highest level of care for patients with these often life-threatening issues. Specializing in limb-salvage surgery and limb-sparing procedures for treating tumors in adult and pediatric patients, our team has also developed new techniques for preserving limb growth in pediatric patients following tumor treatment.
Visit our website to learn more about our ACGME accredited Musculoskeletal Oncology Fellowship Program at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (RNJMS), or contact us to schedule your appointment for Osteosarcoma Treatment today.