Osteosarcoma Awareness with Dr. WilkyNov 4, 2020
Breelyn Wilky, MD, is all too familiar with osteosarcoma, which she calls a “bad luck cancer” because it has no apparent cause and occurs more often in kids and young adults because their bones are still growing.
“Sarcomas are cancers of structural tissues like bone or muscle or tendons, and those shouldn’t be dividing in adults very often. They could divide to repair or something like that, but once you finish growing, a lot of those cells are at rest. But kids are obviously still growing, and so we think in the growth plates, in the bones, that as those bone cells are dividing and continuing to grow, it sets the stage for something to go wrong for genetic mutations that lead to the disease.” Says Dr. Wilky.
The most common warning sign of osteosarcoma is bone pain in the arm or leg. If the cancer is caught early and stays localized to the bone, the cure rate is around 70%. If the cancer is not detected early and metastasizes, the cure rate drops to 30%.
“Adults get aches and pains from arthritis or just wear and tear, but kids should not have pain like that. That’s what we try to teach people — pain in a limb in a kid is never normal and should always be investigated intensively.” says Dr. Wilky.