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What is Osteosarcoma?

Osteosarcoma is a form of cancer that originates in the Bone. Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer and whilst osteosarcomas can happen at any age, they are most prevalent in children and young adults. Each year in the UK, Osteosarcoma is diagnosed in approximately 400 children and juveniles under 20 years of age, with most cases occurring during the adolescent growth spurt. Like other cancers, Osteosarcoma can spread beyond the bone into nearby tissues and the cancer cells can break away from the main tumor and spread through the blood to other bones or to the lungs and other major organs. This is called Metastasis.

When this cancer starts in the cells that make bone, the cancer-filled bone is not as strong as normal bones. Osteosarcoma often starts near the ends of the long bones in the legs, especially in the part of the thigh bone next to the knee, and the part of the lower leg bone next to the knee. The arm bone near the shoulder is the second most common place for this cancer to start, but it can start in other bones such as the hip bone (pelvis), shoulder or jaw.

The cause of Primary Bone Cancer is still unknown. Osteosarcoma is thought to be related to periods of rapid bone growth such as in adolescence however; irradiation (exposure to radiation - often from previous cancer treatments) and genetic influences have been implicated in its development and approximately 3-4% of children with Osteosarcoma carries a constitutional gene and/or has a strong family history of cancer.

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