What Is Chondrosarcoma?
Chondrosarcoma is a type of cancer that develops in cartilage cells. Cartilage is the specialized, gristly connective tissue that is present in adults and the tissue from which most bones develop. Cartilage plays an important role in the growth process.
There are many different types of cartilage that are present throughout the body. Chondrosarcoma is a malignant type of bone cancer that primarily affects the cartilage cells of the femur (thighbone), arm, pelvis, knee, and spine. Although less frequent, other areas (such as the ribs) may be affected.
Chondrosarcoma is the second most common type of primary bone cancer. A primary bone cancer is one that originates from bone, as opposed to starting in another organ and then spreading to the bone. This type of cancer rarely affects individuals under age 20 and continues to rise until age 75. The incidence between males and females is equal.
Symptoms of chondrosarcoma may vary depending on the location of the tumor. The following are the most common symptoms of chondrosarcoma. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- Large mass on the affected bone
- Feeling of pressure around the mass
- Pain that is usually worse at night and may be relieved by taking anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen
- Pain that is not usually relieved through rest
- Pain that may be present for years but increases gradually over time
What Is a Biopsy?
A biopsy is a procedure in which tissue samples are removed from the body by a needle or during surgery, for examination under a microscope to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.
By examining and performing tests on the biopsy sample, pathologists and other experts can determine what kind of cancer is present, whether it is likely to be fast or slow growing, and what genetic abnormalities it may have. This information is important in deciding the best type of treatment. Open surgery is sometimes performed to obtain a biopsy, but in most cases, tissue samples can be obtained without open surgery using interventional radiology techniques.
Some biopsies can be performed in a doctor’s office, while others need to be done in a hospital setting. Most biopsies require use of an anesthetic to numb the area and may require sedation.
What Are X-rays?
An X-ray is a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
X-rays use invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs on film. Standard X-rays are performed for many reasons, including diagnosing tumors or bone injuries.
X-rays are made by using external radiation to produce images of the body, its organs, and other internal structures for diagnostic purposes. X-rays pass through body structures onto specially-treated plates (similar to camera film) and a “negative” type picture is made (the more solid a structure is, the whiter it appears on the film).
When the body undergoes X-rays, different parts of the body allow varying amounts of the X-ray beams to pass through. The soft tissues in the body (such as blood, skin, fat, and muscle) allow most of the X-ray to pass through and appear dark gray on the film. A bone or a tumor, which is more dense than the soft tissues, allows few of the X-rays to pass through and appears white on the X-ray. At a break in a bone, the X-ray beam passes through the broken area and appears as a dark line in the white bone.
Radiation during pregnancy may lead to birth defects. Always tell your radiologist or doctor if you suspect you may be pregnant.
What Is Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan?
Positron emission tomography, also called PET imaging or a PET scan, is a type of nuclear medicine imaging. A PET scan measures important body functions, such as blood flow, oxygen use, and sugar (glucose) metabolism, to help doctors evaluate how well organs and tissues are functioning.
PET is a powerful diagnostic test that is having a major impact on the diagnosis and treatment of disease. A PET scan (positron emission tomography scan) monitors the biochemical functioning of cells by detecting how they process certain compounds, such as glucose (sugar). PET can detect extremely small cancerous tumors, subtle changes of the brain and heart, and give doctors important early information about heart disease and many neurological disorders, like Alzheimer’s.
Most common medical tests, like CT and MRI scans, only show details about the structure of your body. PET scans give doctors images of function throughout the entire body, uncovering abnormalities that might otherwise go undetected. This allows doctors to treat these diseases earlier and more accurately. A PET scan puts time on your side. The earlier the diagnosis, the better the chance for treatment.
For example, a PET scan is the most accurate, non-invasive way to tell whether or not a tumor is benign or malignant, sparing patients expensive, often painful diagnostic surgeries and suggesting treatment options earlier in the course of the disease. Although cancer spreads silently in the body, PET can inspect all organs of the body for cancer in a single examination.
Today, most PET scans are performed on instruments that are combined PET and CT scanners. The combined PET/CT scans provide images that pinpoint the location of abnormal metabolic activity within the body. The combined scans have been shown to provide more accurate diagnoses than the two scans performed separately.
About nuclear medicine
Nuclear medicine is a branch of medical imaging that uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose or treat a variety of diseases, including many types of cancers, heart disease, and certain other abnormalities within the body. Depending on the type of nuclear medicine exam you are undergoing, the radiotracer is either injected into a vein, swallowed or inhaled as a gas and eventually accumulates in the organ or area of your body being examined, where it gives off energy in the form of gamma rays. This energy is detected by a device called a gamma camera, a PET scanner and/or probe.
Chondrosarcoma is described as either localized or metastatic.
Localized chondrosarcoma has not spread out of the bone where the cancer started. There may be one or more areas of cancer in the bone that can be removed during surgery.
Metastatic chondrosarcoma has spread from the bone in which the cancer began to other parts of the body. The cancer most often spreads to the lungs. It may also spread to other bones.