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An overview of osteosarcoma

This is the second blog in a new series discussing pathologies that can be found in seniors. The second blog will focus on osteosarcoma.

Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that often starts in the long bones of the arms or legs. It is associated with mutations in the retinoblastoma gene, and deletions of or mutations in the p53 gene. The tumour commonly arises during late adolescence, which is the time of maximal bone growth. The prevalence is twice as high in males as in females.

Although the exact cause of osteosarcoma is unknown, it is believed to be due to mutations (changes) inside bone cells that are either inherited or acquired after birth. Risk factors include having other bone diseases, being tall for a specific age, and having treatment with specific types of chemotherapy for another cancer.

Pain in the affected bone that gets worse over time, decreased movement of the affected limb, swelling and stiffness around the affected site, and a broken bone with no clear cause are some of the most common symptoms of osteosarcoma. It is often diagnosed using one or more of the following: X-ray, CT scan, MRI, PET scan, blood test, and biopsy of the tumour.

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This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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