Osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, refers to tumour diseases from bone tissue cells. This tissue derives from the mesoderm, which is the portion of the embryo that is transformed into certain types of tissue, such as muscles, cartilage, joints, bones, connective tissues (for example the tendons), blood and lymphatic vessels and fatty tissue during development.
Bones are composed of several types of tissue: the bone tissue and others such as collagen, fibrous, vascular, etc. Bone tissue has three different types of cells: osteocytes, osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Each one of them has a role that is complemented by that of the others, in constant balance.
A tumour may appear in any part of a bone. There are a wide variety of benign bone tumours, whose main characteristic is that they do not invade or infiltrate the tissue around the bone. Malignant tumours that have the ability to invade other tissue and lead to distant metastases may also appear in the bone.
Osteosarcoma is one the type of bone tumour that destroys normal bone tissue and weakens it. It originates in the least mature bone cells that generate new bone (osteoblasts). It is the most common type of bone cancer and is also completely different from the metastasis of other cancers that frequently affect the bone, such as prostate, breast or lung cancer.
Osteosarcomas mostly affect people between 10 and 20 years of age, but also occur in people over 40. It forms in the bone’s own tissue and its cells grow invading the healthy bone, weakening it. They are tumours that can develop in any bone of the skeleton and are often able to extend and produce metastases in other sites, mainly the lungs.
To diagnose it, an analysis of the tumour (biopsy) must be carried out in order for the pathologists to analyse the biopsy at the microscope and report the information necessary for an accurate diagnosis. From there on, the oncologist, in collaboration with radiologists and nuclear medicine specialists, must carry out the necessary tests to determine the extent or stage of the disease and develop the best treatment for the patient.
To adequately treat an osteosarcoma, a direct collaboration with a group of specialists (orthopaedic surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists) with experience in the treatment of this disease, is fundamental in order to establish the most appropriate treatment option depending on the characteristics of the disease and the patient. The team also schedules monitoring when treatment ends.