Osteosarcoma Overview

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Treating Osteosarcoma TOPICS

How is osteosarcoma treated?

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don’t hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

About treatment

There has been great progress in the treatment of osteosarcoma during the past few decades. In the 1960s the only treatment was surgery to remove the limb with the tumor (amputation). At that time, only a small number of patients lived for 2 or more years after their cancer was found. Since then, doctors have found that chemotherapy (chemo) given before and after surgery will cure many people with this cancer. It may also allow some people to avoid having an arm or leg removed.

Once the cancer is found and staged, the doctor will talk to you about treatment options. This is an important decision and it is a good idea to take time and think about all the choices. 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 find and treat the disease and help you or your child get back to normal activities after surgery.

For children, 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:

In most cases, both chemo and surgery are needed.

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.

Because many of these issues can be more complex for cancer in children, 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.

The next few sections describe the types of treatment used for osteosarcomas.


Last Medical Review: 01/24/2013
Last Revised: 01/24/2013