Beginning the Chondrosarcoma Journey

Beginning the Chondrosarcoma Journey

Thursday

WHAT IS CHONDROSARCOMA?

Chondrosarcoma is a rare form of bone cancer. It develops from normal cartilage which goes through malignant change, or can form within a pre-existing benign tumor called osteochondroma, or enchondroma. People who have chondrosarcoma have a single tumor growth which can vary in size and location.


Chondrosarcoma is common to humans as well as animals. All patients are not the same in how they are affected. The surgical treatment methods of their doctors are not always the same, either. Each case has to be considered on it's own specific circumstances.
Chondrosarcoma can be referred to by various other names too, depending on the type of cells identified by looking at them under a microscope. It is the second most common primary bone cancer.


For example:
Conventional (Central)
Dedifferentiated
Clear Cell
Extra Skeletal Myxoid
Juxtacortical
Mesenchymal
Periosteal
Synovial


It is important to understand the difference between a benign and malignant bone tumor. Benign bone tumors are not sarcomas. Benign bone tumors do not spread to other tissues or organs, and are not life-threatening. They are generally removed by surgery if there are certain symptoms accompanying them. Again, these are not malignant.


Malignant primary bone tumors are so rare that only two/tenths of a percent of all new cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, "in 2008, about 2,380 new cases of cancer of the bones and joints will be diagnosed in the United States." Remember that means all primary cancers of the bone. Chondrosarcoma is just a small part of that count. In comparison to Breast Cancer, which has been stated as nearly 800,000 annually (in 2006) according to the Susan G. Komen website, bone cancers are very rare


The most common type of bone cancer is osteosarcoma, which develops in new tissue inside growing bones. Evidence suggests that Ewing's sarcoma, another form of bone cancer, begins in immature nerve tissue in bone marrow. Osteosarcoma and Ewing's sarcoma tend to occur more frequently in children and adolescents, while chondrosarcoma occurs more often in adults.


Generally, Chondrosarcoma has a better outcome than osteosarcoma. The treatment options for both these cancers are different. Treatment for chondrosarcoma is less invasive than treatment for Osteosarcoma. Treatment for chondrosarcoma commonly only involves surgical removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue.


Recurrence rates for chondrosarcoma are less than osteosarcoma. Recurrence of chondrosarcoma occurs in the same location as the original tumor or very close to it. Recurrence are rarely found in other parts of the body. Metastasis is not considered recurrence.


Chemotherapy and Radiation treatments are more frequently necessary in osteosarcoma. As of May 2009, chemotherapy and Radiation are not effective and will not produce a cure in chondrosarcomas. If clear margins are done in the original surgery, the likelihood is considerably less.  If the tumor is quite large or has an aggressive grade, amputation, partial amputation or limb salvage surgery may be necessary


If the Chondrosarcoma is located in the skull base, Proton Beam Radiation has been very successful in halting further growth along with necessary surgery. Regular radiation is not sufficiently strong, or as targeted to the tumor as Proton Beam radiation is. Sometimes Proton Beam is used in spinal Chondrosarcoma, and recently some attempts are being made with pelvic chondrosarcoma. Still, surgery is necessary.



Keep in mind that the percentage for full recovery in chondrosarcoma patients is much higher than in osteosarcoma. It is absolutely necessary to have frequent follow up x-rays and scans in order to verify there are no recurrences for at least five years and sometimes eight years. (This is up to the discretion of the doctor). Even if there is a recurrence, there are good chances for long term survival.


Chondrosarcoma is NOT the type of bone cancer that spreads from other organs to the bone. That is called metastatic bone cancer which might be located in more than one bone. A typical example is when lung, kidney, liver, breast or other cancer spreads to the bones as part of their metastasis. Examination of the cells of metastatic bone cancer look like the original type of cancer cells, (prostate, or liver, breast etc.)


These are other types of bone cancer which are NOT bone cancers produced from other types of cancer.


Chondrosarcoma
Ewing's Sarcoma
Fibrosarcoma
Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma
Giant Cell Tumor of Bone
Chordoma
Lymphoma
Leukemia
Multiple Myeloma
Osteosarcoma 


Return to Questions