Chondroblastoma is a type of cancer that develops at the ends of long bones of the body. These are very rare cancers that grow near the joints of the bones.
Commonly, these cancers grow at the ends of the tibia (shinbone), humerus (upper arm bone), or the femur (thighbone).
Furthermore, these cancers are more common in men. However, it occurs in young adults and children as well. Although these cancers are benign, however, they have the potential to grow actively if you do not treat them.
The tumor can destroy the bones if it keeps on growing. This makes the movement of joints painful. Thus, surgery is the main way to treat this tumor. It stops further damage to the bones.
Causes of Chondroblastoma
It is not exactly clear what causes this cancer. Researchers believe that these tumors arise from the growth plates. Furthermore, these growth plates occur near the joints at the ends of bones.
Although chondroblastoma leads to the formation of cartilage, the cartilage is not the same as that of normal cartilage. Also, the cartilage is not the same in protecting growth plates.
Furthermore, there is no clear research that shows a connection between the tumor and other risk factors. Thus, the risk factors like exposure to radiation, chemicals, or other activities have no apparent clear role.
The most usual symptom of chondroblastoma is pain. Since cancer typically occurs near the joints, the pain starts mostly in joints. Therefore, it is joint pain that may lead to your visit to the doctor.
Thus, your doctor may give you some medications to help relieve the pain. For instance, at first drugs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen will help to reduce the pain.
But, when the tumor grows in size, the Medications will not help anymore. However, some signs and symptoms include:
- Stiffness in the joints.
- Swelling in joints.
- Muscles waste away because of lack of use (muscle atrophy).
- The tumor may develop in the lower extremities which cause a limp.
Usually, the tumor is small and limited to bone. Therefore, you may not feel or see a mass normally.
Before the main tests, your doctor may start with the physical examination. He/She will try to know about your general health. Besides, your doctor will try to learn more about your pain.
You may experience pain, which is more at night. Moreover, this pain doesn’t go away. If it is because of an injury, then it would go away with time.
Thus, your doctor will look for the physical signs like tenderness over the area of the tumor, a lesser amount of motion in the joints, swelling, etc. After that, to further evaluate and diagnose the chondroblastoma, your healthcare professional will order other imaging tests like;
X-rays. They are very beneficial in detecting chondroblastomas and provide pictures of dark structures like bones.
The tumors range in size from 4 cms and are round in shape. The tumors have a thin rim of white bone around them on an X-ray.
In some cases, the tumors may push the edges of bones. However, they rarely extend beyond the bone and other soft tissues. Furthermore, an X-ray may show white spots (calcifications) within a tumor in about 25 to 40% of cases.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They give information about the soft tissues of your body. This scan will help your healthcare provider to see the edges of the tumor in a better way. Furthermore, it will help to determine whether the tumor is still in the bone or outside of it. Your doctor will also be able to see the inflammation present around your tumor.
Computerized tomography (CT). To further evaluate and plan the treatment, your doctor will order a CT scan. Your doctor will be able to see the calcifications present in your tumor if any.
Biopsy. This is a very beneficial test that helps your doctor confirm chondroblastoma. In this test, your doctor will take a sample of tissue from your tumor and examine it under a microscope.
Further, your doctor will give you local anesthesia with a small operation or a needle. Chondroblastomas have a similar background to that of cartilage under a microscope.
Besides, your doctor may observe calcifications in your tumor that looks like “chicken wire.”
The treatment is always necessary as the tumor continues to grow and destroy the bones without a treatment. Thus, the aim of the doctor is;
Remove the tumor. Although, the preferred treatment for chondroblastoma is surgery. However, the tumor cannot be removed in certain cases safely.
This can be due to the size or location of the tumor. In that case, your healthcare professional will recommend your nonsurgical treatment.
Radiofrequency ablation. In this method, your doctor will heat and destroy your tumor by heating and high-frequency electrical current.
Cryotherapy. In this method, your doctor will use extreme cold to kill tumor cells. Your technician will achieve this by using liquid nitrogen.
Your doctor may use both methods when unacceptable complications are there because of surgery.
Curettage. It is the main way of treating chondroblastoma. This is the surgical procedure that your doctor may use to treat chondroblastoma.
Your surgeon will scrap the tumor out of the bone by using special instruments. This can cure your chondroblastoma. After performing the surgery, your doctor will fill the hole that forms during Curettage. This helps stabilize the bone.
Your doctor will use the bone graft from another bone of your body (autograft) or a donor (allograft). Afterward, to fill the hole, your doctor may use a bone cement mixture.
Resection. Your doctor may remove the whole section of bone that contains the tumor, depending on the size and location. Thus, your doctor may use this method instead of Curettage.
Furthermore, your surgeon may use screws and plates to stabilize your bone after the surgery.
Coping and support
When you get diagnosed with chondroblastoma, it could be frightening for you. The condition will be no different for your family.
However, you may learn to cope with the uncertainty and distress related to cancer with time. Thus, you need to follow these instructions until then;
Call on for medical support:
Various things are going to help you. For instance, the knowledge and understanding of a medical social worker, or any other mental health professional is necessary. They will help you in understanding your cancer.
Furthermore, if your child or other family member suffers from cancer, you need to ask health care professionals for advice. They will provide you with options for medical health support. This will also provide you with emotional and social support.
In addition to this, you can check various online services that will provide you support to combat cancer.
- Gain more knowledge about chondroblastoma to make decisionsabout control and care:
Ask your doctor about various treatment options related to chondroblastoma. Little knowledge is dangerous. Therefore, more confidence in understanding and making decisions about treatment options will be there with you. So you should always learn more about the disease.
Ask the health care team for guidance if your child has cancer. Therefore, get more and more information for appropriately caring for the patient.
Be close to your friends and family:
A close and strong relationship with your family and friends is necessary. It will help you deal with chondroblastoma.
You need practical support, moral support from your friends and relatives. Thus, someone should be there for you to look after the family. Emotional support from them is going to matter most. Thus, a healthy and happy person will ultimately efficiently fight the disease.
Prepare for your appointment
You are likely to start making an appointment with your primary care doctor if some signs and symptoms worry you. Ask for a referral to an experienced specialist if your doctor suspects chondroblastoma.
A team of specialists typically can treat chondroblastoma. For instance;
Orthopedic surgeons or orthopedic oncologists who have specialization in operating bone cancers.
Doctors who have a specialization in treating cancers with systemic medications or chemotherapy.
Pathologists diagnose the specific type of cancer by analyzing a tissue.
Rehabilitation specialists who after surgery help in the recovery of a tumor.
What you should expect from your doctor:
You will face several questions from your doctor. Thus, you should be ready to answer these. So, give more time to your doctor to address them. Your doctor may ask;
What signs and symptoms concern you more?
Have your symptoms been occasional or continuous?
When did you start to notice the symptoms?
The severity of your symptoms?
Is there anything that improves your symptoms?
Is there anything that worsens your symptoms?
Do you have any family or personal history of cancer?