It takes roughly about 3 to 4 days for a histo pathological diagnosis on the exact type and nature of sarcomas in cancer centers. Once we have a confirmed diagnosis of sarcoma, next come the process of staging the patient. Staging basically means to screen the patient for any other site in the body where the tumour may have got deposited. This is called metastases.
Bone sarcomas usually metastasize to the lungs, other bones or bone marrow. A Non-contrast CT scan of the chest, Bone scan and Bone marrow biopsy form part of the staging investigations depending upon the type of bone sarcoma we are dealing with.
Whole Body PET-CT is a staging investigation which is a one-stop solution to multiple investigations for staging sarcomas. Once the histological type of the sarcoma and staging is done, next comes the process of treatment of such patients. Breaking the news of bone cancer to the family does come a shock for the entire family.
This is where the role for good counselling on behalf of the treating surgeon, counsellors and making them meet families who have undergone similar experience comes in. Explaining the possible course of action, treatment expectations and expected prognosis depending upon the stage of the sarcoma, forms an integral part of the counselling and should be done in detail with the family of the child.
Primary bone sarcomas like osteosarcoma if detected at an early stage have a good prognosis. A 5-year survival rate of almost 80% and a 10-year survival of 60 to 75% can be expected provided proper treatment which includes chemotherapy, surgery and followed up again by adjuvant/ mop-up chemotherapy.
By this survival rate, we mean that if we treat 100 such patients with bone sarcomas, almost 80 patients would remain healthy and cancer free by the end of 5 years and almost 60 to 75 patients will remain cancer free by the end of 10 years. A cancer recurrence rate is highest in initial years.
After a follow-up of 10 years, if the cancer doesn’t recur patients are usually labelled as cancer free and can lead normal lives.