Pelvic bone cancer is a rare form of cancer. Primary bone cancers that start in the bones are uncommon. Usually, when someone has bone cancer, it begins elsewhere and then spreads to the bones.

Various types of cancer can cause pelvic bone cancer. Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone cancer, usually affecting people between ages 10 and 30. Ewing sarcoma is the second most common type of primary bone cancer. It is rare in people older than 30 years.

Although bone cancer can develop in any bone, bone cancers most often affect the large bones of the pelvis, arms, or legs.

A person with bone cancer may experience pain, swelling, and tenderness at the tumor’s location. In some cases, the bone weakens, causing it to fracture or break.

This article examines the various aspects of pelvic bone cancer, including its causes, risk factors, and treatment.

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Pelvic bone cancer is a rare and potentially serious cancer. It occurs when cancerous cells develop in the bones of the pelvis.

The pelvis is a complex structure. It comprises several bones supporting the lower spine, connecting it to the legs. Pelvic bone cancer can cause pain, swelling, and reduced mobility, affecting a person’s overall quality of life.

Various types of bone cancer can develop in the pelvis, including:

  • Osteosarcoma: This is the most common primary bone cancer, typically affecting adolescents and younger adults. It originates in the bone cells and can develop in the pelvis, often near the hip joint.
  • Ewing sarcoma: This type of cancer usually affects children and adolescents. Ewing sarcoma can develop in the pelvis, often involving the surrounding soft tissues.
  • Chondrosarcoma: This cancer arises from the cartilage cells that comprise the joint surface and can occur in the pelvis. It is more common in adults over age 20, and the risk increases with age.

Detecting and diagnosing pelvic bone cancer early is essential to provide the most effective treatment options and improve an individual’s outlook.

Learn more about bone cancer.

A person with pelvic bone cancer may have different signs and symptoms depending on the tumor type, location, and severity.

The most common sign is pain in the area of the tumor. The pain may not be constant at first, but it can worsen over time and with activity.

A person may also notice a lump or swelling in the affected area, although this may not appear until after the area becomes painful.

Bone cancer can also weaken the bone, making it more susceptible to fractures. Fractures can cause sudden, intense pain.

Other symptoms of bone cancer can include:

  • numbness
  • tingling
  • weakness in different parts of the body if the tumor presses on nerves coming out of the spinal cord
  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • breathing issues if it spreads to other organs

If a person experiences pelvic bone cancer symptoms, they should consult a doctor as soon as possible.

Although bone pain or tenderness can be due to other causes, people must receive an official diagnosis to determine the underlying cause.

Early detection and treatment are essential to successfully managing bone cancer. Therefore, people must take any symptoms seriously and seek medical attention.

Additionally, if a person has a bone cancer diagnosis and is undergoing treatment, they should report any new or worsening symptoms to their care team. Doctors can help people manage side effects and adjust treatment as necessary.

Primary pelvic bone cancer occurs when the cells within the pelvic bones start to grow and proliferate uncontrollably.

Normally, cells grow and divide in an orderly manner, replacing old or damaged cells with new ones. But in cancer, something goes wrong, causing the cells to divide too quickly and form a tumor. A tumor is a mass of abnormal cells.

Secondary bone cancer

In primary pelvic bone cancer, the tumor originates within the pelvic bone. However, it can eventually spread to other parts of the body.

It is also possible and more common for cancer to spread to the bone from elsewhere in the body.

When this happens, it is called secondary, or metastatic, bone cancer. It occurs when cancer cells from another location, such as the breast or lung, travel through the bloodstream or lymphatic system and take up residence in the bone.

Genetic mutations

Doctors are not entirely clear on what triggers bone cells to become cancerous, but certain changes in a person’s DNA likely contributes. These mutations occur in the genes that control the growth and division of bone cells, meaning cells may grow and divide more easily.

However, not all bone cancers stem from genetic mutations. Ongoing research is helping experts further understand this complex disease’s underlying causes.

While having risk factors does not guarantee bone cancer will develop, they may increase the likelihood.

Risk factors for bone cancer include age, genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors:

  • Age: Different types of bone cancer are more common in specific age groups:
    • Osteosarcoma is more common in adolescents (10–19 years).
    • Ewing sarcoma is more common in children and adolescents (0–14 years).
    • Chondrosarcoma and spindle cell sarcoma are more common in adults (30–60 years).
    • Chordoma is more common in adults over 50 years.
  • Cancer treatments: Previous radiotherapy, especially during childhood, and treatment with alkylating agent chemotherapy drugs are linked to an increased risk of bone cancer.
  • Other bone diseases: Certain bone diseases, such as enchondroma, osteochondroma, Ollier’s disease, and Paget disease, can increase the risk of bone cancer.
  • Genetic factors: Genetic conditions, including Li-Fraumeni syndrome, hereditary retinoblastoma, Werner syndrome, Rothmund-Thomson syndrome, and Bloom’s syndrome, are associated with a higher risk of bone cancer.
  • Injuries: Contrary to popular belief, research does not support the idea that bone injuries cause bone cancer. Injuries may reveal preexisting cancers or cause fractures in weakened, cancer-affected bones, leading to the discovery of tumors.

The treatment plan depends on the type of tumor, its stage and grade, and the person’s preferences. The primary treatment options are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy:

  • Surgery: If someone has bone cancer in an arm or leg, a doctor may amputate the limb to cure the cancer. Alternatively, a doctor may resect or remove the cancer and a healthy margin of bone. However, amputations are not an option with pelvic bone cancer, and surgical resection is challenging.
  • Chemotherapy: Doctors use various chemotherapy drugs to treat bone cancer. Chemotherapy can help improve the outcomes of surgery and overall survival. Chemotherapy can also help reduce the risk of future spread and contributes to primary tumor control.
  • Radiotherapy: Doctors may use radiotherapy in combination with other treatments. Before surgery, radiotherapy can reduce tumor size. After surgery, it can kill any remaining cancer cells. However, some cancers, such as chondrosarcoma, respond less favorably to radiotherapy. Radiotherapy can relieve pain and slow tumor growth as a palliative treatment.
  • Samarium: Samarium is a radioactive drug that targets areas where bone cells are growing, such as tumor cells in bone. It helps relieve pain caused by cancer in the bone and also kills blood cells in the bone marrow. It treats osteosarcoma that has come back after treatment in a different bone.
  • Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses medications or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells. There are different types of targeted therapy, such as:

The outlook for people with pelvic bone cancer depends on various factors, including the person’s age and health. It also depends on the cancer’s type, stage, and response to treatment.

According to the American Cancer Society, the overall 5-year relative survival rates for common bone cancers are as follows:

Survival rates are higher for cancers that have not spread and lower for cancers that have spread to distant sites in the body.

These figures are taken from 2012–2018 data.

Pelvic bone cancer is a rare form of cancer affecting the pelvis. Various types of cancer can affect the pelvis, including osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, and Ewing sarcoma.

Genetic mutations can trigger bone cancer by disrupting cell growth and promoting unregulated replication in bone cells.

Symptoms of bone cancer may include persistent bone pain or tenderness, swelling or a lump in the affected area, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should consult a doctor. Early detection and prompt treatment are essential for successful bone cancer management.

Doctors can create a tailored treatment plan with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy to provide the best possible outcome for people with pelvic bone cancer.