Q:

How effective are modern bone cancer treatments, and how serious are the side effects?

A:

Quick Answer

Modern bone cancer treatments are improving, and this increases patients' chances of recovery, states the University of Rochester Medical Center. This is suggested by 5-year survival rates. The seriousness of treatment side effects varies significantly, depending upon type, length and amount of treatment, according to the American Cancer Society.

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Full Answer

The 5-year survival rate for all bone cancers is about 70 percent, reveals the URMC. This includes patients still being treated, those with few symptoms and those without symptoms. When examining rates for specific types of bone cancer, 80 percent of chondrosarcomas patients reach their 50th anniversary. Survival rates for osteosarcomas and Ewing sarcomas range from 60 to 80 percent if they have not spread. When these cancers extend beyond the bones, the 5-year survival rate is between 15 and 40 percent.

With chemotherapy, side effects vary, because different drugs produce different reactions, explains ACS. The quantity of drug ingested is a contributing factor, as is the duration of treatment. Side effects include hair loss, mouth sores, nausea, vomiting and appetite loss. A patient's blood cell count is sometimes low, and this heightens the risk of infection, causes fatigue and breathing difficulty, or increases bleeding and bruising.

Side effects of radiation therapy for bone cancer depend upon the amount of radiation used and the body part that is being treated, notes ACS. Some patients suffer fatigue, appetite loss, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. The skin in the affected area undergoes changes such as redness, hair loss, blistering or peeling. In addition, certain patients have low blood counts.

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