The yellow ribbon is a symbol of bone cancer and is used for fundraising events. Wearing the yellow ribbon is one of the ways to spread awareness and show solidarity to bone cancer survivors and their caregivers. Additionally, July is designated as bone cancer awareness month.
What is bone cancer?
Primary bone cancer refers to the uncontrolled growth of cells that start in the bone. Cancer can spread to the bones from other sites, such as the breast, kidney, prostate, and lung cancer and lymphoma (bone metastasis). This spreading of cancer, from other sites to the bones, is more common than primary bone cancer.
Apart from cancer, several non-cancerous or benign tumors can develop in the bones (such as osteoid osteoma, osteoblastoma, enchondroma, chondromyxoid fibroma, and osteochondroma). Unlike bone cancer, benign tumors do not spread to other tissues and can be completely cured with surgery, which will generally not recur once resected.
What are the types of bone cancer?
Primary bone cancer, also called bone sarcomas, is of various types, such as:
- Osteosarcoma (also called osteogenic sarcoma): The most common type of primary bone cancer and is mainly seen in young individuals (between 10 and 30 years of age). About 10 percent of osteosarcoma cases are seen in people aged older than 60 years. Middle-aged individuals are rarely affected. The tumor is usually seen in the knee or near the shoulder in the upper arm.
- Chondrosarcoma: Cancer starts in the cartilage and is the second most common primary bone cancer. Unlike osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma is rarely seen in people aged younger than 20 years. The risk of this cancer increases with age.
- Ewing’s sarcoma (also called Ewing’s tumor): The third most common primary bone cancer. It is generally seen in children and teens and is rare in people aged older than 30 years. Ewing’s sarcoma is usually seen in the pelvic bones, ribs, shoulder blades, vertebrae (the bones of the spine), and the long bones of the legs.
- Fibrosarcoma of bone: A rare type of bone cancer that mainly affects middle-aged adults and is generally seen in the legs, arms, and jaw.
- High-grade undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma of the bone: A rare type of bone cancer that mainly affects middle- and old-aged people and rarely affects children. It is usually seen around the knees and in the arms.
- Giant cell tumor of bone: Can be either malignant or benign although the benign type is more common. Giant cell tumors of the bones usually affect young adults (people aged 20 to 30 years old). It is mainly seen in the arms and around the knee.
- Chordoma: A rare type of bone cancer that primarily affects adults aged 30 years old. Chordoma arises from the bones of the spine and is most common on the bottom of the spine (sacrum) and the skull base.
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Briggs G. What's Your Cancer Color? Fred Hutch News Service. https://www.fredhutch.org/en/news/center-news/2015/12/cancer-awareness-colors-cascade.html
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Bone Tumor. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/bone-tumor/
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