Bone Cancer Surgery And Treatment Options

Surgeries in the treatment of bone cancer?

Surgical excision involves the removal of tumor and some healthy tissue surrounding it during an operation. Surgical oncologists and orthopedic oncologists are the specialists who treat tumors by this method.

Picture of a patient's foot with possible bone cancer

A wide excision is a surgery which removes the tumor along with healthy tissue around it. Amputation is required if the tumor in the arm or leg is of high-grade and after excision only limb will not be of any use. Doctors recommend an amputation if tumor is multicentric or multifocal (if it has spread to several regions of the bone). Although wide excision reduces the risk of amputations, it requires prostheses, like metal plates or bone from other parts. This reconstructive surgery replaces the metal bone and strengthen the bone that remains. And then, soft tissue like muscle covers the reconstruction area. This helps heal the area further and reduces infection susceptibility.

Children may require amputation as their bones are likely to grow. But prostheses, in this case, requires several operations to adjust bone length as the child grows. Rehabilitation after surgery helps the patient recover emotionally and cope with social stigma associated with losing a limb.

Types of surgeries used in the treatment of bone cancer

Depending on the length and extent of cancer, there are several types of surgeries used in the treatment of bone cancer. They are:

Limb-salvage surgery

This method employs wide local excision leaving enough tissue around the bone to save the limb. Bone graft or endoprosthesis (internal prosthesis) fills the space that wide local excision leaves behind. This is the most popular type of surgery in the treatment of bone cancers. Rehabilitation programs are important to further maintain optimum use of the limb after surgery.


This removes all or a part of the leg or arm in which the cancer is located. However, artificial prosthesis is an option. Also, newer surgical techniques aim to save the cancerous limb to its utmost. In which case, essential nerves, arteries or muscles are also removed.

Surgery for bone cancers in other areas

Surgeons use a variety of techniques in order to remove cancers in areas apart from tumor site. Curettage is a procedure by which surgeons scrape out cancer cells but does not remove them entirely. Liquid nitrogen in the tumor site kills leftover tumor cells. Bone grafts or cement fill in space the surgery leaves.

Reconstructive surgery

Sophisticated techniques help reshape and rebuild that part of the body that surgery alters.

Surgery for metastases

Surgery to remove the spread of cancer cells to the lungs or other organs is surgery for metastases. However, this type of surgery is usually for patients with limited metastasis.

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