Sarcoma

What is a sarcoma?

Sarcomas are malignant tumours that arise from the musculoskeletal system – in bone, fat, cartilage and fibrous tissue. Although a sarcoma can develop at any age, sarcomas most commonly appear in children and young adults.

Bone cancers form in the cells that make hard bone tissue. Cancers such as leukaemia, multiple myeloma, and lymphoma, which arise in cells produced in bone marrow, are not considered bone cancers, but they do affect the bone and may require orthopaedic management1.

The different types of bone cancer include2:

  • Osteosarcoma – the most common type of primary bone cancer, which mostly affects people aged between 10 and 25. Osteosarcoma often starts in the ends of bones, where new tissue forms as we grow. In many cases, it develops in the knee.
  • Chondrosarcoma – more common in those aged 50 or over, chondrosarcomas form in cartilage, usually around the pelvis, knee, shoulders, or upper thighs.
  • Ewing’s Sarcoma – this type usually occurs in a bone’s middle part, often in the hip, ribs, upper arm and thighbones. Like osteosarcoma, it most commonly affects children and young adults.
  • There are also some rare bone cancers that occur primarily in adults, including fibrosarcomas, giant cell tumours, adamantinomas and chordomas. 

How is sarcoma treated?

The kind of treatment depends on many factors, including the stage, type, size and location of the cancer, and a patient’s age and general health. Treating cancers of the musculoskeletal system often involves surgery to remove affected bone, muscle and tissue, and there are sometimes non-surgical treatments following surgery.   Your doctor will recommend the most appropriate treatments for you, and discuss with you what they entail.

When operating to remove bone tumours, surgeons often also take away some of the surrounding bone and muscle to ensure they remove as much cancerous tissue as possible. If operating on an arm or leg, the surgeon will try to preserve the limb and maintain its functionality. Sometimes, surgeons replace removed bone with bone from another part of the body, or use orthopaedic implants to reconstruct bones and joints.

Other forms of treatment may include3:

  • Cryosurgery – once a malignant bone tumour is removed, liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the tumour cavity, killing cancer cells and reducing the chance they will recur. The frozen bone is then stabilised by filling the tumour cavity with a bone graft, surgical cement, or rods and screws, to prevent fractures.

  • Radiotherapy – sometimes used to complement surgery, this destroys or reduces tumours.

  • Chemotherapy – often used to treat primary bone cancers in conjunction with surgery. Chemotherapy is also common after surgery, to kill any remaining cancer cells after surgical removal of the main tumour.

As with any illness, you should learn to be your own advocate, and work with the healthcare professionals to make the decisions that are right for you. Experts will make recommendations based on their knowledge and experience, but the decision is ultimately yours. 

References
1, 2,3. Australian Cancer Research Foundation website ( http://www.acrf.com.au/on-cancer/bone-cancer/) accessed November 2012

What causes hip pain?

What causes hip pain?

Hip pain is sometimes caused by deformity or injury, but one of the most common causes is osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD). Although affected by things like age, weight, joint function and general activity levels, arthritis in the hip is basically the result of your hip’s cartilage lining wearing away slowly over time, and the bones beginning to rub against each other. This causes friction, swelling, pain, stiffness, and instability.

How does arthritis affect the hip?

Arthritis is one of the most common causes of joint disorders, and is the major cause of disability and chronic pain in Australia, affecting 3.85 million Australians1.  And as the average age rises, the number of people with arthritis is also growing. In fact, leading researcher Access Economics suggests 7 million Australians will suffer some form of arthritis by 2050, based on current trends2.

See how arthritis affects the hip in this video:

What can you do about hip pain?

There are many ways to help relieve your pain

The causes of hip pain include:

Login to view more content

What causes knee pain?

What causes knee pain?

Usually, knee pain and loss of mobility is caused by the joint's cartilage lining wearing away. When this happens, the bones rub directly against each other, causing pain and swelling. One of the most common causes is osteoarthritis (OA), which often happens following trauma or direct injury to the knee. Without cartilage, there’s no ‘shock absorber’ between the bones in the joint, so stress builds up in the bones and causes pain and discomfort.

How does arthritis affect the knee?

Arthritis is one of the most common causes of joint disorders, and is a major cause of disability and chronic pain in Australia, affecting around 3.85 million people 1. And as the average age rises, the number of people with arthritis is also growing. In fact, leading researcher Access Economics suggests 7 million Australians will suffer some form of arthritis by 2050, based on current trends2.  

Watch this short video to learn how arthritis can affect your knee.

You don't have to live with knee pain

There are many ways to treat and help relieve pain

References
1, 2     Painful realities: The economic impact of arthritis in Australia 2007 (REPORT BY ACCESS ECONOMICS PTY LIMITED FOR ARTHRITIS AUSTRALIA 31 JULY 2007)

The causes of knee pain include:

Next Steps

Contact your GP or health professional to discuss your options