Everything You Need To Know About Musculoskeletal Cancer Treatment

Musculoskeletal cancer is a cancer that affect the bones or muscles of the body. Although this cancer is rare, it affects tens of thousands of people per year. While some types of musculoskeletal cancer occur mainly in children, others are found mostly in adults. Surgical removal is the most preferred treatment, however, radiation therapy and chemotherapy also may be utilized. Let us explore here everything about musculoskeletal cancer – what is musculoskeletal cancer, all available musculoskeletal cancer treatment, who are the best doctors for musculoskeletal cancer, what are causes and symptoms of musculoskeletal cancer, which are the best hospitals for musculoskeletal cancer, among others.

Dr. Mohammad Afzal Siddiqui

Review By Dr. Mohammad Afzal Siddiqui
Award-winning CEO of Marlin Medical Assistance Pvt. Ltd

Mar 4, 2024

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Table Of Index

What is musculoskeletal cancer?

What is musculoskeletal cancer?

Musculoskeletal cancer is a cancer that develops on the bone and soft tissues such as the tendons, the muscles, and ligaments. Some examples of this type of cancer are soft tissue sarcoma, bone sarcoma, and metastatic carcinoma, which is a bone cancer that spreads from other body parts. Most of these cancers occur because of metastasis, as they develop after cancer cells spread from other organs such as the breast, lungs or colon. This type of cancer is very rare, and its rate of incidence is only around 0.2 percent of all cancer cases.

Types of musculoskeletal cancer

There are many types of musculoskeletal cancer depending on the place where it starts. Some common types of musculoskeletal cancer are given below:

Osteosarcoma: This type of musculoskeletal cancer begins in the cells that make bones. Osteosarcoma is most often occurred in the long bones. This is the most common type bone cancer in children and young adults. Most individuals who are affected with osteosarcoma are nearly age 15.

Chondrosarcoma: Chondrosarcoma is a type of musculoskeletal cancer, which develops in cartilage cells. Cartilage is a connective tissue that is found in adults and the tissue which develop most bones.

Ewing sarcoma: This is a type of cancer that develops from a certain kind of cell in the soft tissue or bone. Ewing sarcoma generally occur in the bones of the legs, feet, arms, hands, pelvis, spine, chest, or skull.

Liposarcoma: This is a rare type of cancer that begins in fat cells. It mostly starts as an uncontrolled growth of cells in the arm, belly or leg muscles. However, liposarcoma can start in fat cells of any part of the body.

Epithelioid sarcoma: This is rare type of cancer that starts in the soft tissue. It can occur anywhere in the body. Epithelioid sarcoma often begins under the skin on the forearm, finger, hand, knee or lower leg. Epithelioid sarcoma mostly affects young adults and teenagers.

Leiomyosarcoma: Leiomyosarcoma is a rare cancer that starts in smooth muscle tissues. This tissue is found in several areas of the body like the digestive system, blood vessels, urinary system, and uterus. Leiomyosarcoma mostly starts in the abdomen or uterus.

Causes and Symptoms


  • Exposure to radiation or drugs
  • Family history of some diseases
  • Certain chemicals such as vinyl chloride, arsenic, or dioxin
  • Bone conditions like Paget's disease


  • Bone pain, swelling near lungs
  • Swelling near the affected bone, joint stiffness
  • Broken bones, fatigue, fracture prone
  • A lump in limb, fever, abdomen pain
  • Difficulty moving around, weight loss
  • Ear pain, vision problems, weakened bone


Doctors use various tests to diagnose musculoskeletal cancer. They may also do tests to find if cancer has spread to other body parts. Below are some tests for diagnosing musculoskeletal cancer.

Computed tomography: A CT scan help see if musculoskeletal cancer has spread into the liver, lungs or other organs. CT-guided needle biopsy helps to confirm suspected metastasis.

X-rays: Doctors can detect bone cancer as hollow or ragged areas on X-rays. While X-rays are generally a reliable test done first, the doctor will order a bone biopsy to confirm diagnosis.

Magnetic resonance imaging: MRI scans show the outline of a bone cancer, which helps the healthcare providers correctly diagnose the condition and design a treatment plan accordingly.

PET/CT: This technique combines nuclear medicine images and CT images to show anatomical structure as well as cancer in a single image. CT/PET scans may also be used to reveal cancer distance from the original tumor site.

Bone scan: This imaging test helps find if a cancer has spread to other nearby bones and can also reveal how much damage a primary cancer has caused to the bone.

Tissue biopsy: The doctor removes a sample of tissue extracted from the tumor to be examined to find whether it is a cancer or any another disease.

Risk & Complications

There may be various risks and complications associated with musculoskeletal cancer surgery depending on the type of treatment. Treatment-wise complications are listed below:

Chemotherapy side effects: When chemotherapy is used for musculoskeletal cancer treatment, there may be side effects, such as nausea, anemia, fatigue, hair loss, and loss of appetite. However, these complications generally go away after a few weeks after treatment.

Surgery complications: Infection, blood loss, pain and swelling are most common complications, but minimally invasive surgical techniques could often help decrease the chances of these complications.

Radiation therapy complications: Depending on the treatment location, radiation therapy may cause some side effects that are similar to those in chemotherapy. There can be some unique side effects like loss of fertility in case radiation is given at the pelvis. Radiation therapy might also cause some temporary changes to menstrual cycle that generally resolve after the treatment is finished.

Preparation of Treatment

How to prepare for musculoskeletal cancer surgery?

You have to prepare yourself for musculoskeletal cancer surgery to get the best results of the treatment and to ensure the procedure is performed smoothly. You have to follow the below listed things to prepare for musculoskeletal cancer surgery:

Tobacco: If you smoke, your surgeon will tell you to stop before surgery. Tobacco tightens blood vessels and decreases the supply of oxygen to body tissues. Smoking may also delay recovery and healing. It might also increase the risk of post-surgery complications.

Diet and alcohol: Being obese can affect surgery as well as recovery. The surgeon might ask you to change your diet, lose some weight, or exercise before surgery. You may also be asked to quit drinking alcohol.

Medications: The surgeon may ask you to stop certain medications like anti-inflammatory pain drugs and any blood thinner because these drugs may increase your bleeding risk during the surgery.

Other drugs: You need to tell your doctor about all medications you are taking, such as vitamins, marijuana and supplements. Some of these drugs might cause problems before as well as after surgery.

Anesthesia history: You will be asked whether you or anyone from your family have had problems with anesthesia in the past. This is because steps can be taken to prevent problems, including vomiting, nausea, and over sleeping after getting anesthesia.

Some tips to prevent musculoskeletal cancer are given below:

Maintain a healthy weight: It is vital to maintain a healthy weight as it reduces the overall risk of various diseases including musculoskeletal cancer.

Quit smoking or tobacco chewing: Tobacco is found to be a common cancer-causing agent. Chronic smoking may be a risk factor for musculoskeletal cancer too. Quitting smoking or tobacco chewing can help prevent the occurrence of musculoskeletal cancer.

Follow a healthy diet: Although there is no defined diet that can ensure bone cancer prevention, people can increase their consumption of certain bone cancer prevention foods, including vegetables, fruits, whole grain, healthy fats, lean protein, and low-fat.

Limit alcohol consumption: Excess alcohol consumption may damage the DNA of cells and raise the chance of having bone cancer. Hence, it is important to limit the consumption of alcohol to decrease the chances of getting bone cancer.

Indulge in exercise: Do regular exercise to keep bones maintained and healthy, which in tu reduces the risk of developing musculoskeletal cancer. A doctor mostly recommends around 30 minutes of exercise for bone cancer prevention.

Go for health checkups regularly: An effective way to reduce the chances of getting musculoskeletal cancer is getting checked on a regular basis for any bone infections or bone cancer symptoms.

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Treatment Option

Radiation therapy: This therapy uses high-energy beams, like X-rays, to destroy cancer cells. In radiation therapy, a special machine moves around the patient and directs the high-energy beams at a precise point on the body. This treatment is often preferred before surgery because it can help shrink the tumor and remove it easily. This can help decrease the chances of amputation being required. Radiation therapy might also be preferred in bone cancer that cannot be removed with the help of surgery. After carrying out surgery, radiation therapy might be opted to kill left out cancer cells. In people with advance-stage bone cancer, radiation therapy might help control symptoms like pain.

Chemotherapy: This treatment uses anti-cancer drugs generally delivered through a vein to destroy cancer cells. But this treatment gives beer results for some types of bone cancer compared to others. Chemotherapy is usually not so effective in case of chondrosarcoma, but it forms an important part of treatment for Ewing sarcoma and osteosarcoma.

Surgery: The aim of surgery is to remove the whole cancerous tumor. In most of the cases, it involves special techniques to excise the tumor in a single piece, together with a small number of healthy tissues that surrounds the affected area. The surgeon then replaces the lost bone with some healthy bone from another area of the body, with a material made of metal or hard plastic, or with a substance available in a bone bank. Bone cancers that are large or positioned in a complicated site in the bone might require surgery to remove the whole portion or part of a limb. As many other new treatments have been found, amputation has become less common. If amputation is required, you will be fied with an artificial limb.

Cost of the treatment

Cost of musculoskeletal cancer treatment

Musculoskeletal cancer treatment in India is becoming popular worldwide mostly due to quality of treatment. The cost of musculoskeletal cancer treatment in India ranges from $2000 to $7,300 depending on a number of factors, such as type of chemotherapy, surgery fee of the doctor, type of the hospital, treatment type, etc.


It may take months to heal after musculoskeletal cancer surgery. The recovery period after surgery may be different for each person and depends on the type of surgery performed. Most patients stay in the hospital for around a week. You may require physical therapy for resume your movement. It is important to undergo rehabilitation after surgery.

  • Follow the below listed things for smooth recovery:
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  • Go for follow-up appointments
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  • Follow a healthy diet that includes fruits, whole grains and vegetables
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  • Limit or avoids processed meats and foods and sugary drinks
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  • Remain physically active
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  • Reduce the time spent lying down or sitting
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  • Limit or avoid alcohol
Dr. Mohammad Afzal Siddiqui

Written by

Dr. Mohammad Afzal Siddiqui

Award-winning CEO of Marlin Medical Assistance Pvt. Ltd

Dr. Mohammad Afzal Siddiqui is an award-winning CEO of Marlin Medical Assistance Pvt. Ltd., a professionally managed medical tourism holding company and the active Director of Alshifa Healthcare Services Pvt. Ltd., a full-service medical tourism aggregation agency servicing JCI and NABH/ NABL accredited Hospitals across the country’s 5 locations.

In addition to Marlin, Alshifa also includes Media Group, which houses Arabic Medical Tourism e-Magazine healthandtour.com. The E-magazine “مجلة الصحة والسياحة” provides a wide scope of medical tourism information to healthcare travellers to find a safe, effective and cost-saving solution for their medical and healthcare needs. In addition to running E-Magazine, Dr. Mohammad Afzal also serves as Delhi-state coordinator in Foundation of Healthcare and Wellness Promotion focused on bringing India’s Healthcare closer to the world and smoothen world’s access to Indian Healthcare.

Frequently Asked Questions About Musculoskeletal Cancer

Several treatments have been available to deal with musculoskeletal cancer. In most cases, stage one musculoskeletal cancer and some stage two musculoskeletal cancers have a good likelihood of being cured. However, stage three musculoskeletal cancer is relatively more difficult to cure, though treatments can reduce symptoms and control the spread of the cancer.

Some of the warning signs of musculoskeletal cancer include pain and swelling in the bone, unexplained bone fractures, fever, fatigue, anemia and weight loss.

There is no proven way to reduce musculoskeletal cancer risk. Individuals who are at higher risk for musculoskeletal cancer are those who have been treated earlier radiation therapy or chemotherapy, people with pre-existing bone defects and syndromes, and those with some genetically linked disorders. Those at high risk must discuss their concerns with their doctor.

If musculoskeletal is diagnosed at the localized stage, 77% of the affected people live for five years. If the cancer has spread to adjacent tissues or the regional lymph nodes, 65% of individuals have a 5-year relative survival rate.

Certain rare genetic syndromes in the family raise the risk of musculoskeletal cancer, such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome. Paget's disease of the bone may increase the risk of bone cancer.

An individual may take 3 to 4 weeks to recover after musculoskeletal cancer surgery. But this period may vary depending on a number of factors such as type of treatment, post-surgery complications, and age of the patient.

Pain caused by bone cancer, generally starts with a feeling of tenderness in the bone affected. This slowly progresses to a persistent pain that comes and goes, which continues during night and when resting.
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