Bone cancers, like all cancers, develop when cells divide uncontrollably and spread. If you’re looking to understand where bone cancer starts and how fast this cancer spreads, 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
There are different types of bone cancer, and understanding the various types is crucial for accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment approaches:
When discussing where bone cancer starts, 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?
In understanding the progression of bone cancer, a key aspect to consider is the distinction between primary and secondary cancers. This differentiation not only influences the nature of the treatment but also affects the prognosis, including concerns about how fast bone cancer spreads.
Primary Bone Cancer
This originates directly in the bones or surrounding tissues like cartilage. The growth rate of primary bone cancer depends on the type and grade of the tumor. For example, high-grade sarcomas like osteosarcoma tend to grow and spread more rapidly. This leads to the question of “How fast does bone cancer spread,” particularly in the context of primary cancer. The answer varies, but aggressive forms can spread quickly without timely and effective treatment.
Secondary Bone Cancer
This occurs when cancer cells spread to the bones from another part of the body. This cancer type typically indicates a more advanced stage of the disease. Its rate of spread can be quite swift, particularly if the primary cancer is of a fast-growing type. This is due to secondary bone cancer’s progression, and the rate at which it spreads often depends on the origin of the primary cancer and the response to treatments.
How Fast Does it Spread?
In discussing how fast bone cancer spreads, it’s essential to differentiate between malignant (cancerous) and benign (noncancerous) tumors. The rate at which these tumors spread can vary greatly, influenced by a range of factors including the type of bone cancer, its stage, and the overall health of the individual.7
Factors Influencing Spread
The rate at which bone cancer spreads can depend on the cancer’s grade – higher-grade cancers tend to spread more quickly. It’s also influenced by the tumor’s size and location, as well as the patient’s age and general health.8
Understanding how fast bone cancer spreads without treatment is crucial. Without intervention, malignant bone tumors can progress rapidly, sometimes in a matter of months. They can spread to nearby tissues, including muscle and fat, and even to distant organs through the bloodstream or lymphatic system.
With Alternative Approaches
Exploring holistic and natural treatments can offer promising avenues to address bone tumors. Embracing modalities such as herbal therapies, nutritional interventions, mindfulness practices, and alternative healing methods may provide a holistic approach to impede the progression of malignant bone tumors. For benign tumors, consider non-invasive monitoring strategies or explore natural remedies that support the body’s innate ability to regulate and heal, avoiding the potential side effects associated with conventional interventions.
Understanding the dynamics of how fast bone cancer spreads is fundamental in formulating an effective cancer care and treatment strategy. Whether malignant or benign, each tumor requires a tailored approach based on its characteristics and the overall health of the patient.
Benign Bone Tumors
Contrary to malignant tumors, benign bone tumors generally do not spread. They can grow and cause symptoms by pressing on nearby structures, but they don’t have the same capacity to invade other tissues or metastasize to distant body parts. However, certain benign tumors may have the potential to become malignant over time.
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
Malignant Bone Tumors
When it comes to malignant tumors, the question of “How fast does bone cancer spread?” is particularly pertinent. These cancerous growths have the potential to spread rapidly, especially without timely treatment. The aggressiveness of the cancer varies; some types can be particularly fast-moving.
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 0-4 — 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.
Characteristics: At this very early stage, abnormal cells are present but have not spread to nearby tissue. It’s rare in bone cancer and is sometimes not included in staging systems.
Symptoms: Generally, there are no symptoms at this stage, making it hard to detect without specific tests.
Characteristics: The cancer is still localized to the bone and hasn’t spread to other body parts. It’s divided into IA (smaller and low-grade) and IB (larger or high-grade).
Symptoms: Mild symptoms may be present, such as localized pain or swelling. Often, symptoms are not aggressive, and the cancer might be mistaken for other bone-related issues.
Characteristics: The cancer is larger and high-grade, but it still hasn’t spread beyond the bone. It’s more aggressive than Stage I.
Symptoms: Symptoms become more noticeable, including increased pain, swelling, and possible fractures in the affected area.
Characteristics: This stage is marked by the cancer being high-grade and existing in two or more places on the same bone.
Symptoms: Symptoms are similar to Stage II but may be more intense due to the larger size and multiple areas of cancer within the same bone.
Characteristics: The cancer has spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, other bones, or the brain. Stage IV is divided into IVA (spread to lungs) and IVB (spread to other organs or bones).
Symptoms: Along with localized symptoms, new issues may arise depending on where the cancer has spread. This may include breathing difficulties (if spread to the lungs) or neurological symptoms (if spread to the brain).
It is evident that the spread and severity of symptoms escalate with each stage, so early detection and treatment are key in managing bone cancer effectively.
Symptoms of Bone Cancer
Knowing what bone cancer feels 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
- ncbi.nlm.nih.gov Factors Affecting Life Expectancy After Bone Metastasis in Adults — Results of a 5-year Prospective Study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8764008/
- ncbi.nlm.nih.gov Bone Metastasis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8764008/
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.