Osteosarcoma: Causes and Treatments

Image Credit: WebMD 

“Wellness is the complete integration of body, mind, and spirit – the realization that everything we do, think, feel, and believe has an effect on our state of well-being.” – Greg Anderson

Article Authors: Gordon Slater|Tandose Sambo 

Our musculoskeletal system is the framework of our entire being. It protects our soft inner organs, keeps us mobile, and supports our body weight. Osteosarcoma is a condition that affects the natural functioning mechanisms of our bones. This medical condition is defined as a type of bone cancer. Predominantly affecting the longer bones of the body, it is found to affect the leg bones the most. 

Symptoms of Osteosarcoma

The predominant symptoms for osteosarcoma include: 

  1. Painful sensations felt by the patient in the bone or joint
  2. Swelling near the affected site
  3. Weakness of bones. Patients can incur injuries or even fractures of the bone, due to its weakened state. 

How is Osteosarcoma diagnosed?

Osteosarcoma is diagnosed via medical assessment. As a condition that affects children and young adults, a visit to your orthopaedic specialist will help to identify if the cancer is present. Since many orthopaedic conditions have similar symptoms, it is often important to have medical tests such as biopsies done, in order to identify if osteosarcoma is present. Additionally, X-rays can provide a visual of the bone surface, so any abnormalities in bone development may be noted. 

What causes Osteosarcoma? 

While the medical community is still making an effort to understand what causes osteosarcoma, the root cause is identified to be in the mechanism of new bone formation. Healthy bone cells will have normal DNA as the code for the generation of new healthy cells. Studies have shown that in the case of osteosarcoma, the patient’s DNA is altered, so that abnormal cells are now being produced. Excessive generation of new bone is formed, and the ultimate result is the formation of a tumour. Osteosarcoma must be treated, in order to reduce any additional adverse health complications. These could include the spread of cancer through the body, limb amputation and side effects of cancer treatment. 

Novel Therapies for treating Osteosarcoma 

Traditional treatments for cancer include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. These methods tend to be invasive treatments. With the advent of orthobiologics and gene editing technology, there are now new treatments being developed that help to treat osteosarcoma in a gentler, more natural way. There are currently attempts to incorporate the utilisation of the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) as targeted immunotherapy against osteosarcoma (OS)[2]. The CAR-T cells are genetically modified cells that target and eliminate cancer cells in a patient. 

Natural progression of osteosarcoma can result in a life span of five additional years. With treatment included in a patient’s regimen, treatments such as chemotherapy are found to have improved the survival rate from 20% to 60% currently. Utilisation of CAR-T cell therapy aims to be the treatment that will take treatment of osteosarcoma to the next level. 

While much remains to be explored, once medical science can create CAR-T cells that target a specific critical site on the OS cells, and not impact normal tissues, the research will be successful. The results for the treatment of OS via CAR-T cell therapy seem to be promising, and leading us in the right direction for the development of clinical treatments. 


[1] Mayo Clinic: Osteosarcoma 

[2] Pub Med: Treating Osteosarcoma with Car T Cells 

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Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

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Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

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