Bone cancer is a unique form of cancer that typically affects long bones within the body. With 3 unique cell types contributing to bone tissue, there are a variety of different bone cancers and different signs of bone cancer. Bone cancer like many other forms of cancer following the staging system to categorize the severity and recommended treatment for cancer of a specific size and type. Staging allows oncologists and patients to understand the cancer present and the best evidence-based treatment that will give the best probability of good outcome. Below are the stages of bone cancer and the associated symptoms and signs of bone cancer at each stage.
Stage 1 bone cancer is mainly classified by the size of the tumor and the grade of the tumor. The grade of a tumor is essentially the resemblance the cancerous cells have to the normal bone tissue with grade 1 being most similar to grade 3 being most abnormal. Stage 1 is broken up into two categories stage 1A and stage 1B. Stage 1A is characterized by a tumor size of less than 8 centimeters with a grade of 1 which closely resembles normal bone tissue. Stage 1B is characterized by a tumor size greater than 8 centimeters and a grade of 1. Typical symptoms of stage 1 bone cancer include bone discomfort or ache. With stage 1 bone cancer you are unlikely to experience the more severe signs and symptoms bone cancer can present.
Stage 2 like stage 1 is split into two categories stage 2A and stage 2B. Stage 2A would be smaller than 8 centimeters but would have a higher grade of 2 or 3 meaning that the cancer cells do not closely resemble the normal bone cells. For stage 2B there is a higher grade, but the tumor size is larger than 8 centimeters. The more dissimilar the cancer cells are from normal bone the more of a chance that you will experience negative symptoms. In addition, stage 2 bone cancer is typically faster growing than stage 1 which makes it more important to find an effective treatment as soon as possible.
Stage 3 unlike stage 1 and 2 is not split into any categories. The main distinguishing factor of stage 3 bone cancer is the spread of the cancer to other parts of the same bone. The majority of bone cancers begin at the end of long bones. The spread of the cancer to the more central parts of the bone can lead to the weakening of the bone. Bone breaks are actually a symptom of bone cancer and those experiencing what appear to be brittle long bones should consider getting a screening performed to rule out bone cancer.
Stage 4 cancer is the last stage of cancer. Stage 4 is broken down into two categories stage 4A and stage 4B. Stage 4A occurs when the bone cancer metastasizes or moves, from its original location to the lungs. This results in difficulty breathing and is an important sign of bone cancer when accompanied with other symptoms like bone pain. Stage 4B is the spread of the cancer to other distant organs and the lymph nodes. This stage can host a variety of severe symptoms and should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible for the best outcomes.
Overall bone cancer like most cancers follow its own distinct staging criteria. These stages allow medical professionals to quickly understand the severity of a chance case and select the most appropriate plan of care for the patient. Each stage of cancer provides its own unique set of challenges but quickly categorizing the cancer and treating it will lead to the best outcomes possible.