There are several types of treatments used for osteosarcoma in children. The exact combination of treatments that is appropriate for your child depends on a variety of factors. Often, a pediatric or medical oncologist will work with an orthopedic surgeon specializing in cancer to determine the combination of surgery and treatment that offers the best outcome for each patient.
Chemotherapy is a mainstay of treatment for osteosarcoma. Chemotherapy consists of very strong drugs used to kill cancer cells. Many different medications may be used, either alone or in combination, to treat various cancers. The specific combination depends on the type and extent of the cancer. Commonly used chemotherapy agents to treat osteosarcoma include cisplatin, doxorubicin, and methotrexate. Ifosfamide and etoposide may also be used to treat certain patients with osteosarcoma. Most patients receive chemotherapy before and after surgery This may help the surgeon salvage the limb and also assist the treating doctors in knowing how well the tumor responds to treatment. Because the chemotherapy drugs are very strong, they are also associated with side effects since they can affect the normal cells in the body in addition to killing cancer cells. Your doctor will discuss these in detail and ways to lessen and monitor the side effects.
Surgery is also a mainstay of treatment for osteosarcoma. The orthopedic surgeon may remove the cancer and a portion of the surrounding healthy tissue and replace the bone with an artificial bone or a bone obtained from a cadaver. If the tumor is in the leg or arm, this is called a limb-salvage or limb-sparing procedure. Sometimes, a limb will need to be amputated. The type of surgery will depend on the location, size and extent of the tumor. Your surgeon will discuss all the options for removing the tumor including risks and benefits of the procedure.
Radiation does not kill osteosarcoma cells well and is rarely used to treat this tumor.