Osteoblastoma is a non-cancerous (benign) tumor bone. This rare tumor develops in the bones present in the spine. Besides, it also affects the hands, legs, and feet.
The tumor mostly affects young adults and adolescents. Thus, the tumor development rate is higher between the ages of ten to thirty. Moreover, it affects twice the number of males than females.
Furthermore, the tumor can destroy healthy bones by growing to a large size. Thus, surgery becomes the only option to remove the tumor entirely.
There is no exact cause of what leads to this tumor. However, the research is going on. This tumor results in the formation of an abnormal bony material called osteoma. It grows slowly and dissolves healthy and normal bone.
Thus, osteoid bone material develops up around bones in the body. This bone is more susceptible to a fracture because it is weaker than the normal bone.
Such bones tend to break even after little injuries. Furthermore, the cancer is benign. However, there are cases where cancer transforms normal cells into malignant (cancerous) ones.
Various patients show may develop symptoms even before the detection of cancer. This occurs because of the slow growth of the tumor.
Mild pain and swelling are the most usual symptoms of osteoblastoma in arm bones and legs. However, several osteoblastoma may affect cancer as well.
If the tumor occurs spine, it results in back pain. Besides, a tumor can press on nerves if present in the spine. Under such circumstances, a patient may develop several neurological symptoms in the leg like weakness, pain, or numbness.
This tumor may also lead to scoliosis, which results due to muscle spasms. Scoliosis is a sideways bend of the spine. Fortunately, treatment of osteoblastoma resolves this curve.
Physical Examination and Medical history.
Various aspects are there in the doctor’s examination. Your doctor will ask about your general health before a physical examination. He/she may ask for various physical symptoms.
Then, your doctor will check the range of motion in the area of the tumor. He/she will look for swelling or tenderness on your bone. Then, your doctor will order other tests.
To diagnose an osteoblastoma, your doctor will ask for tissue and imaging tests like;
X-rays. These tests are very helpful in detecting bone cancers as they form clear images of dense structures like bone. Moreover, on an x-ray different tumors show different characteristics.
Other imaging scans. After an X-ray, your doctor may order other imaging scans. These include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, bone scans, or computerized tomography (CT) scans.
These tests will provide more details about the soft tissues. Also, they give cross-sectional images of bones.
An MRI scan or a CT scan will help your doctor in knowing the exact location of the tumor. Furthermore, they give precise characteristics of the tumor.
Biopsy. This is an ultimate test to confirm the diagnosis. In this test, your doctor may take a part of the tissue from osteoblastoma. Then, he/she will look into it under a microscope.
Before taking a sample with a needle, your doctor will numb the particular area. He/she will give you a local anesthetic for this. Your doctor may perform these tests as a small operation as well.
How your doctor treats it?
Surgery is the primary treatment for this cancer. Without damaging any surrounding tissue, your doctor will try to remove your osteoblastoma.
Marginal Resection. In this method, your doctor will remove the bone where the tumor is present.
Curetrage and Bone Grafting. Here, your surgeon will scrap the tumor out of bone. Then your surgeon will fill the hole with a graft.
The graft could be from another bone in your body (autograft) or a donor (allograft). To fill the hole, your doctor will then use a bone cement mixture.
Spinal Fusion. The treatment for the tumors present in the arms and legs is easier. However, when the tumor is present in the spine, there may be some challenges.
After your doctor will remove the tumor from the spine, he/she will use spinal fusion. It gives the necessary support to the area. One can consider it as a sort of “welding” process.
In this method, your surgeon realigns and fuses the weak spinal bones. This way your bone will heal into a solid and single one.
Radiation Therapy and Chemotherapy.
Except in rare cases, your doctor will not recommend these treatment options for osteoblastoma. For instance, if the surgeon cannot remove the tumor safely.
This is possible when it is present in a spine. Under these circumstances, your doctor may use radiation therapy.
When will you return to your daily activities depends upon the extent and location of your tumor? Furthermore, it will also depend upon by which procedure you had removed it.
To guide your rehabilitation, your surgeon will give you some specific instructions. Moreover, in about 10 to 20 percent of patients, osteoblastoma returns. This relates to whether your doctor has successfully removed all the tumors or not.
Also, there should be no damage while performing surgery. Otherwise, it will increase the recovery time.
In case the tumor recurs, then your doctor may use the same method. However, he/she will tell you about all the options available.
Coping and support
When you get diagnosed with osteoblastoma, 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 osteoblastoma to make decisionsabout control and care:
Ask your doctor about various treatment options related to osteoblastoma. 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 osteoblastoma.
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 osteoblastoma.
A team of specialists typically can treat. For instance;
Orthopedic osteoblastoma 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?