Bone Cancer Research
Cancer » Bone Cancer » Bone Cancer Research
Bone cancer research is an on-going process worldwide. It is necessitated by the fact that no firm cure exists for bone cancer. Bone cancer can occur in people of all ages. There are multiple forms of bone cancer such as osteosarcoma, ewing's sarcoma, chondrosarcoma and fibrosarcoma. It is not known exactly why each of these cancers occurs. Many of these bone cancers produce similar symptoms like pain. Also detection of the bone cancer is difficult as conventional X-rays, MRI (magnetic resonance scans), CT scans cannot point to the exact type, extent and nature of the bone cancer. This makes it difficult to treat bone cancer early.
Breakthroughs for bone cancer are obtained mainly through effective blood cancer research. Existing bone cancer treatment are long winding, complicated, full of side effects, difficult to manage and above all extremely costly. More importantly, they cannot guarantee that bone cancer will not recur. Bone cancer patients are at risk of losing their limbs or organs which can create a permanent disability and lower the quality of life. This makes it important to focus on bone cancer research.
Bone cancer research is targeted at the causes of bone cancer, genetic and bio molecular profiling and screening, its epidemiology, finding accurate symptoms, managing symptoms, newer and more accurate diagnostics and testing techniques, more efficient and lower cost treatments, clinical trials of new cancer drugs, preventive diets, vaccines and medicines,
Causes of bone cancer: Research of bone cancer has brought out that smoking, family history of cancer, carcinogens and radiation exposure increase the risk of the disease.
Research for the causes of bone cancer starts with clinical observation of previous patients. Animals like laboratory rats or mouse are used for observing the potential threats. For example, recently a study was carried out where mice were injected with tumor cells that spread to cause bone destruction. Research showed that osteoprotegerin can reduce bone destruction and bone pain in certain cases. It is naturally occurring protein that is known to reduce tumor spreading and bone re-absorption. It was found to be effective in osteosarcoma cases. Another research showed that, when parathyroid hormone related proteins increase in patients with breast cancer, then there is high risk that the breast cancer may metastasize to the bones.
Research showed that when apoptosis or programmed cell death fails, it can lead to cancers of some forms. It was found that PRL-3 (Phosphatase of Regenerating Liver 3) is plays an important role in bone metastasis and that certain antigens can help reduce PRL-3 levels.
Genetics: Cancer research has developed into a new branch in genetic research known as oncogenomics. Projects like Cancer Genome Project, Cancer Genome Atlas, COSMIC Cancer Database are all targeted to identify genes that cause or are affected by cancer. Modern bio-analytics and bioinformatics using new technologies like super computers have greatly aided cancer research.
Over 33 genes and mutations were found to cause some types of cancers. Over 3000 mutated genes were observed to mutate into tumors. Over 286 genes were detected as tumor suppressor genes. There are thousands and thousands of more genes to be analyzed.
Diagnostics and tests for bone cancer: A number of new techniques for detecting bone cancer have come up, such as bone scans and bone biopsies. Previously biopsies required large incisions on the body to remove a tissue for study. Now with the help of endoscopic techniques and smaller cameras, that can provide high resolution and even microscopic images, cancer detection is easier and requires a very small incision. Also the biopsy procedures themselves have improved with the help of smaller needles and safer pre and post biopsy medications and management.
Imaging techniques have improved allowing a 3 dimensional view of the tumors. CT scans and MRIs are being supplemented by PET scans (Positron Emission Tomography) or NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) scans. They provide attractive features like better imaging and lower radiation dosages.
The day won't be far away when a small hand held device would detect bone cancer.
Treatment: Treatment of bone cancers are widely known to be revolving around chemo and radiation therapy and surgery. Research is now going on to improve existing chemotherapy drugs and find newer and safer drugs. For example, nanotechnology is being used to deliver drugs that are not easily soluble. Nanotechnology can be used to design drugs with magnetic particles to concentrate the drugs around the tumor in a magnetic field. Isolated limb perfusion technique is used to isolate the organ or appendage from the other part of the body to provide high dosages in the affected part without causing any side effects to other parts of the body.
Gene therapy today is taking significant strides to cure bone cancers. However, a cure is still far away. For now, targeted therapy seems to have enhanced the prospects of cancer patients. Targeted therapy works by attacking the cancer causing molecules rather than the rapidly dividing cells. Targeted therapy is now seen replacing chemotherapy.
Vaccines are being developed to protect against certain viruses that cause cancer, such as human papillovirus. Vaccines such as oncophage help the immune system to fight tumors. Most vaccines are yet in clinical trials and many are yet to be approved. Bone cancer research will hopefully provide a onetime solution soon. Till then, do follow basic bone cancer prevention guidelines.