Orthopedic Oncology: Understanding Musculoskeletal (MSK) Cancer

Musculoskeletal cancers are those that develop on the bone or soft tissues like the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This type of cancer includes Bone sarcoma, Soft tissue sarcoma, and Metastatic carcinoma, a bone cancer that has spread from other parts of the body. Most numbers of these cancers are a result of metastasis, i.e., they develop due to the spreading of cancer cells from other organs like the breast, colon or lungs. This form of cancer is very rare, and its incidences account for just about 0.2% of all cancer cases. The growths arise from the bones or muscles and what’s most important is the diagnosis.

Diagnosing musculoskeletal cancer

MSK cancers being a rare case, the key is diagnosis and the ability to differentiate between benign and malignant musculoskeletal tumours. Only experts can distinguish and diagnose this cancer which is why it is essential to consult with the right doctors in reputed hospitals. The diagnosis is performed by conducting scans like MRI, CT or a Bone scan which gives a clear image followed by a biopsy to detect the presence of cancer cells.  After a detailed examination is conducted, the appropriate treatment plan is finalized based on the scan and biopsy results.

Musculoskeletal cancer symptoms and treatment

Being a rare type of cancer, the symptoms are not very clear. The possible symptoms include

  • persistent pain in the affected muscle or bone at night that analgesics cannot relieve, swelling in the affected area,
  • the formation of a lump or mass in the affected limb, fractures without any causative factor-like accident or injury, fatigue and pain in the previously cancer-affected region.

These symptoms, however, do not necessarily indicate the presence of cancerous tumours. So, if symptoms are chronic and painful, it is highly recommended that you consult a doctor for an expert opinion.

The treatment plan is decided by a multidisciplinary team of doctors including the oncologist and radiologist to find out the best plan. The treatment usually involves a combination of techniques including surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. In the earlier days, these cases usually involved amputating the patient, but with the recent advancements in medicine, cases requiring amputations are very rare.

Today’s surgical oncologists have extensive experience in performing complex surgeries using

  • Endoprosthetic & Mega prosthetic replacements,
  • 3D printed prosthetics custom-designed to suit a patient and biological reconstructions using grafts and implants.
  • Other treatments offered are metastatic bone disease surgery and
  • Limb Salvage techniques which are a replacement for the earlier practice of amputation. In this technique, the cancerous tumour and the nearby affected areas are removed without amputating the patient, and it also ensures tendons, nerves, and blood vessels are not affected, a procedure that works to preserve the affected limb and is an alternative to amputation.

At Cytecare Cancer Hospitals, we have the best in class team of multidisciplinary oncologists and are equipped with all diagnostic and treatment equipment under one roof. We treat every case uniquely, make customized treatment plans and ensure specialized treatment based on researched cancer care methodologies is provided as patient recovery and safety is our priority.

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