Bone cancer is one of the most difficult types of cancer to diagnose, one of the most painful types you can have, and one that has a mixed response to treatment efforts.
Bone cancer in many ways can be broken down into two types based on its origin, neither of which changes its prognosis considerably.
If bone cancer originated in the bone, it is usually discovered because of a bone fracture, or some unrelated condition involving a bone.
Many times an unrelated injury may be x-rayed, and a careful radiologist notices a “spot” on the x-ray that requires further evaluation.
As bad as this is, it is secondary to when the cancer originated elsewhere and has spread to the bones as part of an ongoing metastasis.
The prognosis of bone cancer is affected by these factors:
- Type and location of the cancer – this is especially true if the cancer originated elsewhere
- Stage of the cancer – how extensive an area has the cancer spread to?
- The grade of the cancer – how quickly is the cancer growing or spreading?
- General factors – these include the patient’s age, general health, response to previous treatments, etc.
The problem is that those factors may not give an adequate picture. Bone cancers can be tricky, and a person’s outcome may be tied to any of these factors, all of these factors, or even none of these factors.
When all types of bone cancers are considered in an aggregate, the survival rate is roughly 70 percent. These are quite frankly not very good odds.
The situation improves, however, if a bone cancer is discovered when it is localized in one area and has not spread into nearby lymph nodes.
One-third of all bone cancers are diagnosed only after the cancer has spread to a lymph node or another symptom. When the cancer has remained in one area, but has spread to the regional lymph nodes, the survival rate is just under 70 percent.
Sadly, when bone cancers are discovered that have spread from a distant region of the body, such as colon cancer which has metastasized to the bone, survival rate is only about 30 percent.
Survival rates are defined as surviving five years after diagnosis, whether someone is in the middle of ongoing treatment or not.