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An Innovative Pain Control Treatment for Primary Osteosarcoma

What is osteosarcoma?

Osteosarcoma is the most common type of cancer that starts in the bone. The name comes from “osteo” (of the bone) and “sarcoma” (cancer of connective tissue. It produces bony tumors that are actually immature types of bone growth. There are two types of osteosarcoma:

  • Primary osteosarcoma occurs primarily in young persons below age 25. According to radiopaedia.com, 75% of these cases occur before age 20 because “the growth centers of the bone are more active during puberty/adolescence.” Typically, it affects the long bones, with an apparent “preference” for the leg bones near the knee.
  • Secondary osteosarcoma generally affects the elderly, and it arises as a result of other causes, such as Paget’s disease or radiation treatment for other conditions. Thus, occurs secondarily to something else, which distinguishes it from primary osteosarcoma. Secondary osteosarcoma can affect skeletal sites almost anywhere in the body, especially flat bones such as the pelvis.

Painful osteosarcoma lesions

The first sign of osteosarcoma is likely to be either bone pain. Sometimes there is also be a lump, mass or swelling at the site, or this will occur later. Pain occurs as the bony growths involve nerves that send pain messages to the brain. In addition, fractures can happen because the cancerous bone that is forming is not as sturdy as healthy bone.

Treating osteosarcoma

Standard treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. The American Cancer Society suggests that a combination of surgery and chemotherapy is most effective. However, not all osteosarcomas are able to be surgically removed. This may be the case whether it is the original tumor, or a recurrence following surgical removal.

MrgFUS for painful osteosarcoma

An innovative approach using MRI-guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) offers local pain relief when surgery is not an option. Since it is noninvasive, it is done as an outpatient procedure. Unlike radiation treatments, which require numerous visits and can take up to several weeks to know if pain is effectively controlled, MRgFUS is a one-time treatment with pain relief that shows up in a matter of days.

Once the osteosarcoma has been identified on an MRI scan, the doctor is able to plan the treatment approach to target the lesion. The treatment then consists of focusing sound waves (ultrasound) from numerous directions into the tumor. The ultrasound passes harmlessly through intervening tissues, but when the sound waves meet, or converge, they generate enough heat to ablate (destroy) the tumor; at the same time, the ultrasound deadens the nerves that send pain signals to the brain.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with primary or secondary osteosarcoma, the Sperling Medical Group offers Exablate MRgFUS to relieve bone pain. For more information or an evaluation to see if MRgFUS is right for you, contact our Center, or visit our website.

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