Osteosarcoma is the second most common primary malignancy of bone behind multiple myeloma. Osteosarcoma accounts for 20% of primary bone malignancies. There is a preference for the metaphyseal region of tubular long bones. 50% of cases occur around the knee. It is a malignant connective (soft) tissue tumor whose neoplastic cells present osteoblastic differentiation and form tumoral bone.
Osteogenic Sarcoma is the 6th leading cancer in children under age 15. Osteogenic Sarcoma affects 400 children under age 20 and 500 adults (most between the ages of 15-30) every year in the USA. Approximately 1/3 of the 900 will die each year, or about 300 a year. A second peak in incidence occurs in the elderly, usually associated with an underlying bone pathology such as Paget's disease, medullary infarct, or prior irradiation. Although about 90% of patients are able to have limb-salvage surgery, complications, such as infection, prosthetic loosening and non-union, or local tumor recurrence may cause the need for further surgery or amputation.
The causes of osteosarcoma are not known. Several research groups are investigating cancer stem cells and their potential to cause tumors. The connection between osteosarcoma and fluoride has been investigated; there is no clear association between water fluoridation and deaths due to osteosarcoma.
Many patients first complain of pain that may be worse at night, and may have been occurring for some time. If the tumor is large, it can appear as a swelling. The affected bone is not as strong as normal bones and may fracture with minor trauma (a pathological fracture).
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