Bone and soft tissue cancers occur in the connective tissues of the body, and can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Malignant tumors, also called sarcomas, may spread to other areas of the body, whereas benign tumors typically do not. In either case, however, proper diagnosis and treatment are necessary.
Our pediatric oncology specialists will work with you and your child to provide the highest quality care and most advanced treatment options available, including connecting you with appropriate multidisciplinary care when needed. Understanding the various types of bone and soft tissue cancers and their symptoms and best treatments can be a useful first step.
Wellness and Prevention
Cancer of the bone and soft tissue can develop in any area of the body where connective tissue is found, including bones, cartilage, muscles, nerves, tendons, fat and blood and lymph vessels. While children with a history of certain inherited diseases such as Li-Fraumeni and Werner syndromes may be at an increased risk for developing these types of cancers, their exact cause is unknown.
The most common symptom of cancer of the bone and soft tissue is a visible lump that may appear underneath the skin of the affected area of the body, typically on an arm, leg or torso. This may start out as a painless lump, but as the sarcoma grows, it can push on surrounding areas of the body to create additional symptoms, such as:
- Pain, which may be worse at night
- Limping, if the sarcoma is on your child’s leg
If your child is experiencing a lump or other possible symptoms, your doctor can use a number of tests to accurately diagnose and classify pediatric bone and soft tissue cancers:
- Physical exam to check for lumps other physical signs of the disease, as well as to obtain a comprehensive health and medical history
- Imaging tests like X-rays, MRIs, CAT scans and ultrasound exams can create detailed pictures of internal areas that may be affected by bone or soft tissue cancer
- Biopsy to remove a sample of tissue for further testing to confirm or rule out the possibility of a sarcoma. Biopsies may be performed using a needle, incision or, in some cases, excision of the entire lump.
If biopsy results reveal a benign or malignant tumor, pediatric oncology specialists provide advanced treatment options aimed at disabling and destroying cancerous cells. The best option for your child or teen will depend on the type, stage and location of the tumor. One or more of the following procedures may be combined in order to treat bone and soft tissue sarcoma:
Surgery to remove the tumor is a common treatment. This procedure can also be combined with radiation therapy or chemotherapy to shrink the size of the tumor prior to surgery.
Radiation therapy utilizes high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. This method may be used on its own or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy involves the use of medication to destroy and stop the growth of cancerous cells. It can be administered orally through pills, directly into the bloodstream intravenously or a combination of both methods of delivery.
Through targeted therapy, doctors can specifically target cancer cells with medication and other substances without also affecting healthy cells.
Upon completion of your treatment plan, our team of oncologists will continue to provide specialized care aimed at monitoring your child’s general health and early detection of any new problems that may surface. The extent and type of treatment required can influence your child’s aftercare and recovery, but maintaining regularly scheduled follow-up visits with your doctor is a key step to achieving successful outcomes.