Osteosarcoma (pediatric)

What is osteosarcoma?
Osteosarcoma is a rare form of cancer originating in the bone. This disease is more common in children and young adults than older adults, mainly affecting those between the ages of 10 to 25.

What causes osteosarcoma?
The exact cause of osteosarcoma is not known, however certain genetic mutations and conditions may increase the risk of developing it. Past treatment with radiation therapy or anticancer drugs called alkylating agents can increase the risk as well.

Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that a person will definitely get osteosarcoma.

What are the symptoms of osteosarcoma?
• Pain and swelling in or around a bone
• If the tumor is close to a joint, limited movement may be noticed
• A bone that breaks very easily or for no known reason

How is osteosarcoma diagnosed?
At KHCC osteosarcoma is mainly diagnosed by taking an x-ray of the bone and by performing a biopsy. A biopsy removes a sample of bone and tissue to further examine in a lab for abnormalities. Biopsies for any bone tumor at KHCC are performed by an experienced orthopedist or interventional radiologist to prevent unnecessary contamination of healthy tissue. In addition, physicians may take a CT or MRI scan of the chest to rule out the presence of lung metastasis (spread of cancer to the lungs).

How is osteosarcoma treated at KHCC?
The treating physician will present the case to the MDC panel who will determine the right treatment for the child depending on how much the cancer has spread throughout the body.

Chemotherapy is the standard treatment for this type of disease. After several rounds of chemotherapy, surgery is usually performed to remove the tumor.  At KHCC, physicians are experienced in limb salvage surgery, which aims to remove the tumor completely without having to amputate the affected limb. In cases of lung metastasis (spread of the cancer to the lungs), surgery may be needed to remove the affected lung lesions. Osteosarcoma is not sensitive to radiation so radiotherapy is used only in pain relief but does not lead to effective control.

Pediatric patients receive top quality care from a multidisciplinary team of pediatric oncology specialists that is entirely devoted to diagnosing and treating osteosarcomas and other childhood tumors.

Supportive Care
Pediatric services work in close cooperation with other departments at KHCC so that pediatric cancer patients receive the most comprehensive care possible. Supportive care services at KHCC include: