How is osteosarcoma treated?
Once the cancer is found and staged, the doctor will talk to you about treatment options. It’s important to be sure you understand your options. Ask your cancer care team questions. You can find some good questions to ask in the section “What are some questions I can ask the doctor about osteosarcoma?”
Because osteosarcoma is rare, few doctors except those in major cancer centers have much experience in treating this disease. The best approach involves a team of people that includes several doctors, as well as other experts, who work together to treat the disease and help you or your child get back to normal activities after surgery.
For children and teens, the best team approach includes the child’s doctor as well as other experts like pediatric oncologists and orthopedic surgeons. Treatment is best done at a children’s cancer center.
The types of treatment used for osteosarcomas include:
Most often, chemo is the first treatment used. This is followed by surgery if it can be done, and then more chemo. Radiation might be used if not all of the cancer can be removed or if there is a high risk of the cancer coming back after surgery.
All of these treatments can have side effects, but there is help for many of them. Your medical team will help you take care of the side effects and will work closely with other experts to help you understand and deal with the problems, stress, and other issues related to the treatment.
Thinking about taking part in a clinical trial
Clinical trials are carefully controlled research studies that are done to get a closer look at promising new treatments or procedures. Clinical trials are one way to get state-of-the art cancer treatment. In some cases they may be the only way to get access to newer treatments. They are also the best way for doctors to learn better methods to treat cancer. Still, they are not right for everyone.
If you would like to learn more about clinical trials that might be right for you, start by asking your doctor if your clinic or hospital conducts clinical trials. You can also call our clinical trials matching service at 1-800-303-5691 for a list of studies that meet your medical needs, or see “Clinical Trials” to learn more.
Considering complementary and alternative methods
You may hear about alternative or complementary methods that your doctor hasn’t mentioned to treat your cancer or relieve symptoms. These methods can include vitamins, herbs, and special diets, or other methods such as acupuncture or massage, to name a few.
Complementary methods refer to treatments that are used along with your regular medical care. Alternative treatments are used instead of a doctor’s medical treatment. Although some of these methods might be helpful in relieving symptoms or helping you feel better, many have not been proven to work. Some might even be dangerous.
Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about any method you are thinking about using. They can help you learn what is known (or not known) about the method, which can help you make an informed decision. See Complementary and Alternative Medicine to learn more.
Help getting through cancer treatment
Your cancer care team will be your first source of information and support, but there are other resources for help when you need it. Hospital- or clinic-based support services are an important part of your care. These might include nursing or social work services, financial aid, nutritional advice, rehab, or spiritual help.
The American Cancer Society also has programs and services – including rides to treatment, lodging, support groups, and more – to help you get through treatment. Call our National Cancer Information Center at 1-800-227-2345 and speak with one of our trained specialists on call 24 hours a day, every day.
Because many of these issues can be more complex for cancer in children and teens, many people will be involved in your child’s overall care. As a parent, taking care of a child with cancer can be a very big job. It is important to remember that you will have a lot of help. For more on this, see our document Children Diagnosed With Cancer: Understanding the Health Care System.
The next few sections describe the types of treatment used for osteosarcomas.
Last Medical Review: 06/13/2014
Last Revised: 01/27/2016