This is a guest post by Brian Flora.
Chondrosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that involves the cartilaginous—or connective tissue—that connects muscle to bone. While bone cancers themselves are relatively rare, chondrosarcoma is the second-most common type of bone cancer and occurs primarily in individuals between the ages of 50 and 70, making this cancer a particular concern for seniors.
Areas of the body most frequently affected by this type of cancer include the femur, arm, pelvis, knee and spine. Other areas can include the sternum or breastbone. Chondrosarcomas can be treated with traditional treatment methods or newer options such as proton therapy. The primary symptom of any type of bone cancer is pain in the affected area. Secondary symptoms are related to the area where the involved bone is located.
According to the American Cancer Society, almost 2,900 new cases of primary bone cancer are expected to be diagnosed during 2012 and approximately 1,400 deaths will be attributed to this disease. Primary bone cancers are rare and make up less than 0.2 percent of all cancer types. Some appear to be related to earlier radiation or chemotherapy. Most instances of bone cancer are secondary and result from a cancer spreading, or metastasizing, from its primary location.
Traditional Chondrosarcoma Treatment Options
According to the National Cancer Institute, treatment options for chondrosarcoma depend on the type, size, location and stage of the cancer, as well as an individual’s age and overall health. After taking these variables into consideration, the patient and his or her oncologist can design a treatment program consisting of one or more of the following options:
- Surgery: Surgical resection has been the most common means of treating chondrosarcomas and is considered by some to be the most successful. Surgery is often followed by adjunctive therapies such as radiation or chemotherapy to ensure success.
- Chemotherapy: While chemotherapy—the use of two or more drugs to kill cancerous cells—is used in some types of bone cancer, it is not used as a primary treatment for chondrosarcoma.
- Radiation: Radiation therapy uses high energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. This form of treatment is frequently used in conjunction with surgery to try to prevent metastasis.
- Cryosurgery: Cryosurgery is the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill cancerous cells. Whether it can be considered as a feasible treatment option depends upon where the chondrosarcoma is located.
Alternative Chondrosarcoma Treatment Options
Proton therapy is a type of specialized radiation therapy, first considered to be “reserved for refractory tumors in high risk anatomic areas such as the skull base and axial skeleton.” More and more radiation oncologists are using proton therapy for appropriate tumors and cancers because of the specificity of treatment this modality provides.
Results have been so positive that the UK’s National Health Service has begun to send patients to other countries where the therapy is available. As cancerous cells can be targeted more specifically and normal healthy tissue can remain relatively unaffected, patients experience a marked decrease in the number of side effects associated with traditional radiation therapy.
Proton therapy may be an appropriate treatment for your chondrosarcoma. Cancer treatment requires a personalized approach and sometimes obtaining a personalized approach requires some effort on your part. If you or someone you know is affected by chondrosarcoma, talk to your oncologist today to determine if this is a viable treatment option.
Author bio: Brian Flora is a health advocate who occasionally writes on behalf of IU Health trying to spread awareness about different types of cancers, diseases, and treatments in hopes that someone out there will benefit from this information.
Image Credit: Courtesy of habi via Flickr