Bone Cancer Prognosis

In the analysis of cancer survival rates and prognosis, staging is the process of finding out how widespread the disease. Furthermore, surgeons use it to determine what type of treatment they will apply to their patient. Lastly, doctors perform it by examining the location and the type of the cancer tissue. (1)

Staging is important in bone cancer because it can determine different prognoses at the various stages and therefore doctors administer different treatments accordingly. It helps to determine one’s health condition to know if the cancer needs treatment or not.

Most physicians use FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) staging system when performing staging processes. It relies entirely on surgery results.

The AJCC (American Joint Committee on Cancer), TNM staging system, involves three factors which include:

  • Tumor: Extent of the primary tumor
  • Node: Presence or absence of metastasis to nearby lymph nodes
  • Metastasis: Presence or absence of distant metastasis

The grade of the tumor depends on how abnormal the cells appear to be when doctors view it under the microscope. The higher the number of cells, the more unusual they seem to be. However, high-grade tumors tend to grow and spread faster than low-grade tumors.

Bone Cancer Staging

The T, N, and M of a person are combined in a process called stage grouping to determine the stage of cancer which is expressed in Roman numerals. Some stages further split into sub-stages which experts show with letters and numbers. (2)

  • Localized/ Stage 0: In this stage, the cancer cells are only present on the surface of the bone and have not invaded the deeper tissues of the bone. Furthermore, another name for this stage is carcinoma in situ.
  • Early Stage/ Stage I: In this stage, the cancer has invaded the bone but has not grown in the layer between the muscle and the bone. The cancer has also not spread to the nearby lymph nodes and distant sites. The tumor is of low grade and is in more than a place in the same bone and may also be larger.
  • Stage II: The tumor has not grown outside the bone, and it has not spread to nearby lymph node or distant sites. Though, the tumor is of high grade.
  • Stage III: In this stage, the tumor has grown outside the bone. It has spread to lymph nodes around the bone. It has spread in more than one place on the same bone. The tumor is therefore of high grade.
  • Distant Spread/ Stage IV: Lastly, this stage is the most advanced stage of bone cancer and at this stage. Additionally, it has spread to the nearby organs, lymph nodes, distant sites and other body parts.

Bone Cancer Survival Rates

Doctors use these values as a way of discussing one’s outlook (prognosis). A five-year survival rate is the percentage of patients who live for at least five years after diagnosis of cancer. The cancer survival rates usually depend on the previous outcomes of large numbers of people who at one point had cancer.

However, this can be affected by one’s general health, the grade of the cancer, how well one responds to treatment and the treatment received. These cancer survival rates are estimates and do not apply to those that recur or spread. (3)

For all bone cancer cases, the 5-year relative survival rate is about 70%. Though for chondrosarcoma which is common in adults: the 5-year relative survival rate is about 80%.


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