Osteochondroma is a type of noncancerous (benign) tumor that occurs on the surface of a bone. It usually develops during adolescence or childhood and affects the areas near the growth plate of a bone.
In children, the ends of the long bones have areas of developing cartilage tissue. These areas are called growth plates. Moreover, bone plates are the areas from which the growth of bone occurs. These growth plates turn into hard, solid bones when a child grows fully.
Thus, an osteochondroma is excessive growth of the growth plate. Further, it comprises both cartilage and bones. Therefore, an osteochondroma can grow further as the child ages. The tumor typically stops growing when the child reaches skeletal maturity.
Therefore, like fibrous dysplasia and osteochondroma, the tumor needs no specific treatment. However, to identify any changes or complications, you should regularly monitor cancer.
Furthermore, osteochondromas occur as many tumors (multiple osteochondromatosis) or as a single tumor (osteocartilaginous exostosis). The symptoms and treatment may vary for both.
Researchers do not know the exact cause of cancer. Further, it does not occur because of injuries. Both females and males show an equal probability of developing the tumor.
However, cancer has a link or association with a gene called EXT 1. Though, it is not well understood how defects in this gene cause cancer. The topic is still under investigation.
Since no known cause is apparent on what causes solitary osteochondroma, thus the treatment is tough. This makes researchers unable to find a solid way to prevent it.
In a large number of cases, solitary osteochondromas show no symptoms. Further, if symptoms develop, they arise after a long time.
Patients with the age of 10 to 30 years have a higher probability. Thus, most often the cancer is present in this age group. The main symptoms include;
Development of painless bumps. Bumps develop near the joints. It affects the knee and shoulder, mostly.
Pain. Pain results when you show some activity. The tumor is usually present near tendons. These tough fibrous connections join muscle with bone. Therefore, upon moving, the tendons strike with each other, causing pain.
Changes in blood flow. Sometimes, a tumor may be present near a blood vessel. It presses the vessel which leads to changes in blood flow. The color of the limb may change because of this, or may cause loss of pulse. However, these changes in blood flow are rare.
Tingling or numbness. The tumor may be present near a nerve behind the knee. Numbness or tingling may occur when the tumor excessively pressures the nerve.
In addition to this, breakage of the stalk of a pedunculated osteochondroma may occur because of an injury. This results in swelling and immediate pain at the place of the tumor.
How your doctor diagnoses this cancer?
Since most of the time, osteochondroma does not show any signs or symptoms, it becomes tough to detect cancer. In most cases, you will discover your cancer accidentally.
While performing a test like an x-ray for some other problem, you may diagnose your cancer. If your symptoms are severe, only then do you need a specific treatment.
Your doctor will ask for your symptoms to get an idea about your tumor. Therefore, your doctor will try to know about your general health before performing a physical examination upon you.
Your doctor will look for various physical signs in your body during a physical examination. He/she will look for swelling, tenderness over the bone, or any mass in the area of your pain.
X-ray. This will help you in detecting your tumor. The X-rays provide your doctor the details of hard structures like bones. Any outgrowth in the osteochondroma will be visible in an x-ray.
Other imaging tests. To further evaluate the tumor, your doctor may recommend other imaging tests. Tests like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, bone scans, or computed tomography (CT) scans help evaluate the tumor further.
These tests are helpful n providing more detail about softer tissues. Thus, more detailed images help your doctor to understand the tumor in a better way. Further, these tests give cross-sectional images of the tumor.
Your doctor will be able to see the structure of your tumor more precisely by using a CT scan or MRI. Further, they will show your doctor the specific characteristics of cancer. For instance, your doctor will be able to see if the tumor is present in areas other than the signs.
Biopsy. It is the ultimate test that will help your doctor confirm cancer. In this test, your doctor will remove a part of the tumor and examine the cells under a microscope.
It needs careful planning by the medical team to determine the type of biopsy needed and determining how a doctor should perform it.
A doctor should perform the biopsy in a way so that it doesn’t interfere with future surgery to eliminate cancer. That’s why you should ask your doctor to refer a team of experts with extensive experience. They will help you treat cancer before the biopsy.
Nonsurgical Treatment. Careful observation of overtime is necessary for this cancer. You should regularly do an x-ray to look for any changes in the tumor. So, it will help you keep a track of the same.
Furthermore, if you feel pressure, pain on blood vessels, or nerves, then your doctor may recommend you surgery.
Surgical Treatment. It involves the removal of tumors. Your doctor may recommend surgery only after some severe symptoms. Furthermore, you may require surgery if you have deformities or some conditions like knock-knees. This helps straighten the bone.
The treatment for solitary osteochondromas and multiple chondromas may be a little different. For instance, more severe multiple osteochondromas may require immediate surgery sometimes.
Therefore, your surgeon may go for surgery in case of malignant tumors. To eliminate the remaining tumor cells, your doctor may order radiation therapy. In such cases, though rarely, your body may respond well to a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
After surgery, most of the patients return to their normal life after 3 to 6 months. However, many factors influence the recovery of patients. These factors include the size of osteochondroma, how quickly bones of a patient heal, and the type of bone graft that your doctor uses.
You should regularly visit your doctor and have an x-ray regularly. This way you can make sure if the tumor does not come or grow back.
The treatment in the patients works well. This is because the tumor not so much aggressive and responds well to the drugs. Cancer will rarely recur if your doctor performs surgery. Furthermore, they do not become cancerous or resolves with skeletal maturity.
Coping and support
When you get diagnosed with osteochondroma, 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 osteochondroma to make decisions about control and care:
Ask your doctor about various treatment options related to osteochondroma. 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 osteochondroma.
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 osteochondroma.
A team of specialists typically can treat osteochondroma. 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?