Pediatric Osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma is the most common bone cancer in children and teenagers. Children’s Health, through an academic affiliation with UT Southwestern Medical Center, is a national leader in studying and treating this type of cancer. We use a team approach and the latest treatments to give your child every chance to overcome their cancer and get back to being a kid again.

What is Pediatric Osteosarcoma?

The word “sarcoma” means a tumor that grows in bones or soft tissue like muscles and organs. Osteosarcomas are a type of sarcoma that grows in a particular type of cell inside bones.

Every year, about 400 children and teens in the U.S. develop osteosarcoma. Most of these tumors grow in the knee or shoulder. They can also spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs.

What are the signs and symptoms of Pediatric Osteosarcoma?

Children may notice pain, redness or swelling where the tumor is growing. Children can also develop a limp, decreased movement and sometimes even a fracture at the site of the tumor.

How is Pediatric Osteosarcoma diagnosed?

We identify the type of cancer by taking a sample of the tumor, looking at it under the microscope and studying its DNA. We also get detailed images of the tumor, through tests like an MRI, CT-scan, bone scan and PET-CT scan. These images show us how big the tumor is and whether it has spread to other places in the body.

We use the type, size and location of the tumor to decide which treatment will work best for your child.

What causes Pediatric Osteosarcoma?

In most cases, there is no known cause, but some people may have an increased risk of developing osteosarcoma due to genetics, other bone diseases or environmental exposure, such as radiation.

How is Pediatric Osteosarcoma treated?

A child with osteosarcoma will typically have three stages of treatment:

  • Chemotherapy, to kill the cancer cells and shrink the tumor
  • Surgery, to completely remove the tumor
  • Additional courses of chemotherapy, to kill off any remaining cancer

At Children's Health℠, we also always look for new and better treatments. Our academic affiliation with UT Southwestern Medical Center allows our providers to participate in ground-breaking research and provide innovative care.

We offer advanced ways to treat osteosarcoma that are not available anywhere else. These include taking 3D images of the tumor to help doctors plan their treatments. We’re also developing a system where we put data about a child’s tumor into a computer program. The program will compare that tumor to other tumors in the database and predict how your child’s tumor will respond to different treatments. This evolving system may help us select the treatment that is most likely to be successful.

Our pediatric oncologists work closely with the surgery teams to provide seamless care throughout the course of treatment. Our surgeons have expertise in performing complex surgeries, such as limb salvage, rotationplasty and amputations, to treat osteosarcoma.

Pediatric Osteosarcoma Doctors and Providers

Children’s Health is home to some of the nation’s top pediatric cancer specialists and where physicians are also faculty members at UT Southwestern Medical Center. We use a team approach and work together with pathologists, radiologists, physical therapists, psychologists and social workers to provide integrated, multidisciplinary care.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can osteosarcoma in children be cured?

    Treatment works best for children with localized tumors (when cancer hasn’t spread throughout the body). These children can have an 80% survival rate. The rate is lower for children whose cancer has spread or who respond poorly to chemotherapy, but many do survive. Our After the Cancer Experience (ACE) survivorship program monitors patients for the long-term effects of cancer and cancer treatment throughout their lifetime.

  • Why should my child be treated at Children’s Health?

    Our UT Southwestern physicians have years of specialized training and experience seeing patients with every type of childhood cancer. This gives us the expertise to match your child with the treatment that gives them the best opportunity to overcome their cancer. Our academic affiliation with UT Southwestern Medical Center also enables us to use research to develop new treatment methods, and offer clinical trials that might only be available at a handful of hospitals.