Bone cancers, like all cancers, develop when cells divide uncontrollably and spread. If you’re looking to understand where does bone cancer start and how fast does bone cancer spread, read on. We’ll cover this along with alternative treatment for bone cancer in our article.
Where Does Bone Cancer Start?
When answering what is bone cancer and where does bone cancer usually start, it’s good to begin with the skeletal system. The skeletal system consists of 206 bones and connective tissues. It’s the framework of our body that protects internal organs and attaches to muscles —so that our body can move freely. It’s also where bone cancer originates. 1, 2
Primary bone cancer forms in bone cells and makes up about 1% of cancer cases. There is also “secondary bone cancer” which refers to cancer that has started somewhere else in the body, and then spread to the bones. 2
Malignant bone tumors are identified by where they are located on the bone, the nearby bone tissue that is affected, and the types of cells that are forming in the tumor.
When discussing where does bone cancer start, we usually begin with the most common prevalent form of primary bone cancer, otherwise known as osteosarcoma. Osteosarcoma begins in the bone cells and tumor cells commonly develop in the arms, legs, and pelvis. 6 In rare cases, osteosarcoma can occur in the soft tissue outside of the bone as well.
This type of bone cancer is often found in young children to older adults and makes itself present through bone pain, tenderness, and swelling. Doctors will usually recommend chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery to kill the cancer cells within the affected bone.
This bone cancer is the next most common form of bone cancer and begins in the cartilage cells. A Chondrosarcoma cancer cell can form anywhere in the body where there is cartilage. Most chondrosarcomas begin in the bones of the legs, pelvis, or arms. They can also start in the trachea, larynx, chest wall, shoulder blades, ribs, or skull. Left untreated, it can develop into metastatic bone disease and begin affecting other parts of the body. 6
As the third most common type of primary bone cancers, Ewing tumors (or Ewing sarcomas) develop in the pelvis, chest wall, and long bones of the arms and legs. Ewing sarcoma is a rare bone disease that can form both in the bones and in soft tissue. While Ewing’s Sarcoma may be more common in children and teenagers, this cancer can affect anyone at any age.
What Is the Difference Between Primary Cancer vs. Secondary Cancer?
Primary cancer refers to the original site of the tumor or cancer. Secondary bone cancer describes the location where the cancer has spread within the body. If secondary bone cancer has been offered (bone metastases), treatment may have to be altered to address this affected bone area as well.
How Fast Does it Spread?
Primary bone tumors are classified as either malignant, cancerous, or benign, noncancerous. Tumors are benign when they do not develop beyond their primary cancer site, while the malignant tumors are more at risk for spreading and growing faster. Once tumor cells spread to other parts of the body, the cancer becomes more difficult to treat.
Knowing how fast does bone cancer spread depends on the type of bone cancer.
Examples of Benign Bone Tumors
These tumors are composed of normal cells and will not occupy nearby organs and tissues. However, benign tumors can sometimes press on other organs and cause pain if they are not taken care of. 3 The following are examples of benign bone tumors:
- osteoid osteoma
- aneurysmal bone cyst
- fibrous dysplasia of the bone
Examples of Malignant Bone Tumors
Malignant tumors can spread throughout the body through the lymph system and bloodstream. They typically grow faster than benign tumors. 3 The following are examples of malignant bone tumors:
- Ewing’s sarcoma
- malignant fibrous histiocytoma
- other sarcomas
Bone Cancer Stages
The bone cancer stages are a crucial component when answering the question of how fast does bone cancer spread. Bone cancer is staged 1-4 — the higher the stage, the faster and further the metastasis has spread. That’s why it’s crucial to understand the early signs of bone cancer, and whether you have developed bone metastases or primary bone tumors. Once you know what kind of bone cancer you have and whether metastasis has occurred, you can then find a treatment plan that’s catered to your unique situation.
Symptoms of Bone Cancer
Knowing what does bone cancer feel like can help you identify the symptoms. Metastatic bone cancer, like all cancers, is less likely to spread the sooner you get treatment.
But what are the symptoms of bone cancer? How do you know if you have bone metastases or other tumors? Symptoms to look for with bone cancer first and foremost include bone pain. Whether you have a bone tumor or metastasis, both can cause bone pain for an individual. This is the earliest symptoms of bone cancer and can become more severe over time as the metastases grow and develop. There can be swelling where the primary tumor is located and if that’s on a joint, you might experience problems with mobility. These symptoms occur because as the primary tumor grows in cancer patients, it presses on healthy bone tissue (which can destroy that tissue). 4
If you’re wondering what does bone cancer look like, be aware of new growths or swelling. Bone scan imaging, like x-rays and MRIs, will be further used by your physician to see what your particular bone cancer looks like internally. Currently, there’s no definitive answer as to what causes bone cancer, but bone cancer is diagnosed through bone scan imaging and biopsy results.
Treatment Options For Bone Cancer Patients
Many patients ask how long do you live after being diagnosed with bone cancer? This question has to do with the stage of your bone cancer and whether it has spread or if it has become metastatic cancer.
The overall five-year survival rate for all bone cancers in adults and children is about 70% — whereas the five-year survival rate for the most advanced stage of osteosarcoma (the most common type of metastatic bone cancer) is 27 percent. 5,6
Many doctors turn to options such as surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy, but we believe there are better and alternative methods.
At Immunity Therapy Center, we believe there is a treatment for everyone. That’s why we offer alternative cancer treatments based on our patient’s current condition, their type of cancer, and past medical history.
If you are diagnosed with bone cancer and are interested in learning how to treat bone cancer naturally, reach out to ITC today. Traditional cancer treatment, such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery, can leave patients feeling weaker than when they started. That’s why our holistic treatment programs are designed to stimulate your immune system so that it can recognize and destroy cancer cells.
Whether you’re fighting bone cancer or another type of cancer, our team is here to help you.
Written By: Dr. David Alvarez
Dr. David Alvarez is a Board Certified Medical Doctor from Universidad Xochicalco and Certified by the American Heart Association (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support).
Dr. Alvarez has been collaborating with Dr. Bautista as an Assistant Medical Director at the Immunity Therapy Center for over 6 years. He provides daily on site patient care and participates on the medical board on research and development of patient treatment plans and programs. Dr. Alvarez is a knowledgeable and compassionate Doctor committed to helping patients get to where they want to be health wise through a more holistic and comprehensive approach.
- dictionary.com. Definition of Skeletal System https://www.dictionary.com/browse/skeletal-system
- medicalnewstoday.com. Bone cancer: Survival rate, causes, types, and treatment https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/171372
- healthline.com. How Quickly Cancer Spreads https://www.healthline.com/health/cancer/how-fast-does-cancer-spread#treatment
- Cancer.net. Bone Cancer Symptoms and Signs https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/bone-cancer/symptoms-and-signs
- healthline.com. What is the Life Expectancy with Stage 4 Bone Cancer? https://www.healthline.com/health/stage-4-bone-cancer-life-expectancy
- cancer.org. What is Bone Cancer? https://www.cancer.org/cancer/bone-cancer/about/what-is-bone-cancer.html
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.