Facts about tumors
A ‘Tumor’ is technically any enlarged area of the body that is abnormal. The term tumor is usually used to refer to a neoplasm or a growth of abnormal tissue.
Tumors can be benign or malignant.
A benign tumor is one that may grow to very large proportions if left untreated yet will not spread to other parts of the body and should not kill the patient. Many benign tumors do not grow significantly and do not require any treatment at all. Benign bone tumors are seen in children (most common are osteochondromas, hemangiomas, unicameral bone cysts, aneurysmal bone cysts, osteoid osteomas, and chondroblastomas) and in adults (most common are giant cell tumors and enchondromas). There are many other types of benign bone lesions and other causes of abnormalities seen on radiographs such as bone islands, bone infarcts and degenerative cysts that usually do not require surgery or a biopsy for treatment.
Malignant bone tumors (bone cancers) include bone sarcomas, lymphoma of bone, multiple myeloma, and metastatic carcinoma. The main types of bone sarcomas are Osteosarcoma, Ewing’s, Chondrosarcoma and malignant fibrous histiocytoma of bone. Osteosarcoma and Ewing’s occur mostly in adolescents and young adults while chondrosarcoma and malignant fibrous histiocytoma occur in adults. These malignant sarcomas require aggressive management with surgery, chemotherapy (exception is chondrosarcoma) and sometimes radiation (especially Ewing’s).
Cure is possible and is more likely in patients without metastatic spread of disease and when the tumors are small and surgically resectible.
If untreated these tumors will spread to vital organs and kill the patient.
Despite our best treatment modalities, almost half of patients with high grade sarcomas will progress and die of their disease.
Research is being focused on improving our understanding of metastatic potential, mechanisms and prevention.