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Osteosarcoma in Children

  • Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer in children and young adults. It usually occurs in the long bones, such as the arms or legs, though it can also occur in the pelvis, spine, jaw or other locations in the body.

    How Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s approaches osteosarcoma in children
    Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center provides comprehensive medical and surgical care for children and adolescents with bone tumors, such as osteosarcoma. Our multidisciplinary approach through our Bone and Soft Tissue Program ensures in-depth discussion of each case and personalized treatment plans for every patient. We integrate expertise from pediatric oncologists, oncologic orthopedists, pediatric specialists, psychologists, social workers, and oncologic surgeons.

    Treatments for Osteosarcoma in Children
    Treatments for osteocarcoma may involve a combination of therapies including surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy. In most cases, children receive chemotherapy before surgery (neoadjuvant), a surgical procedure to remove the tumor and additional chemotherapy after surgery (adjuvant). Treatment options will vary greatly, depending on your child's situation. Your child's doctor and other members of your care team will discuss the options with you in-depth. Prompt medical attention and aggressive therapy are important for the best prognosis.

    Osteosarcoma Surgery
    Depending on the size and location of the tumor and whether the tumor has spread, your child may receive one of the surgical treatments necessary to combat it including limb salvage surgery, amputation, or a rotationplasty. If the osteosarcoma has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, additional surgery may be required, and our oncologic surgeons will remove any metastases that may have formed.

    Chemotherapy for Osteosarcoma
    Chemotherapy is a group of drugs that interfere with the cancer cell’s ability to grow or reproduce. Different groups of chemotherapy drugs work in varied ways to fight cancer cells and shrink tumors. Chemotherapy is systemic treatment, meaning it is introduced to the bloodstream and travels throughout the body to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be given orally, as an injection into the muscle or fat tissue, directly to the bloodstream, or with a needle directly into the fluid surrounding the spine.

    Osteosarcoma Research and Clinical Trials
    Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center was one of the first centers in the United States to use adjuvant chemotherapy and perform limb salvage surgery for patients with osteosarcoma. In addition to our very active research program on osteosarcoma and osteosarcoma clinical trials at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s, we also have available all Children’s Oncology Group clinical trials for newly diagnosed, non-metastatic and metastatic osteosarcoma.

    Learn more
    Find more in-depth information on osteosarcoma on the Dana-Farber/Boston Children's website, including answers to:

    • What causes osteosarcoma?
    • What are the symptoms of osteosarcoma?
    • How is osteosarcoma diagnosed?
    • How is osteosarcoma treated?
    • What is the long-term outlook for children with osteosarcoma?
    • What follow-up care will my child need?
    • What is the latest research on osteosarcoma?

    Clinical trials
    For many children with rare or hard-to-treat conditions, clinical trials provide new options.

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The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
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