Why choose us for osteosarcoma care?
Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone tumor to affect adolescents and young adults. At Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, our pediatric and oncology (cancer) doctors collaborate to provide research-backed osteosarcoma care with a focus on the unique needs of young patients.
Our experts understand the fine details of many rare sarcomas. We treat all bone cancers using proven protocols and precise surgical techniques. Extensive family resources support you and your loved ones throughout your child’s care.
Find out more about our sarcoma cancer program and pediatric sarcoma program.
What you need to know about osteosarcoma
- Osteosarcoma is cancer that grows out of bone tissue. It usually affects long bones in the arms or legs. Osteosarcoma sometimes spreads to other areas of the body, such as the lungs. Because our doctors see a high volume of pediatric osteosarcoma patients, they have a deep expertise in treating rare and complex bone tumors.
- We use specialized molecular and genomic tests to learn more about cancer cells during osteosarcoma diagnosis. A team of doctors from different specialties (tumor board) uses these details to decide together on the right treatments for you.
- Osteosarcoma usually develops in adolescence or young adulthood. Social workers and clinical psychologists are key members of our care team. We work with the patient, school and family members to provide multiple layers of support during a stressful time.
- Our collaborative approach provides leading care while also making it easier for more families to access our team’s expertise. We may be able to coordinate services so patients who live outside the San Antonio area can undergo certain tests close to home.
How to talk to your doctor about osteosarcoma
We understand the difficulties that an osteosarcoma diagnosis can present for patients and families. Our team is here to support you.
Our center has extensive resources available, including individual and family counseling to help you cope in a way that feels right for your family.
We sit down with you to discuss your treatment options and how they may affect your life or long-term health. We encourage you to reach out to your care team whenever you have questions or need guidance.
You might want to ask your doctor about:
- Additional testing, if any, that may be needed to inform a diagnosis or treatment plan
- Cancer details, including the type of osteosarcoma, whether it has spread and how it may affect your overall health
- Treatment options, including any clinical trials for which you may be eligible
- Potential treatment side effects and how the highly trained nurses at our dedicated inpatient chemotherapy unit help ease discomfort
- Support services, including coordination with schools to balance a child’s workload during treatment and services like fertility preservation options focused on supporting adolescent and young adult cancer patients
Doctors classify osteosarcoma as primary (cancer started in bone tissue) or secondary (cancer developed in another area of the body and spread to the bone). Most pediatric cases of osteosarcoma are primary bone cancer.
Osteosarcoma can also be grouped according to where a tumor develops or how cancer cells act. For example, intramedullary osteosarcoma makes up most cases of osteosarcoma. These osteosarcomas develop deep inside long bones like the thighbone (femur).
Learn about the many other bone cancers we treat, including Ewing sarcoma.
Osteosarcoma symptoms vary depending on where a bone tumor grows in the body and other factors. Some people notice no obvious symptoms.
Common osteosarcoma symptoms include:
- Pain or discomfort near a tumor, especially symptoms that get worse over time
- Swelling or lump by the area of concern
- Problems walking, or limping (for tumors in the leg)
- Bone weakness, which may cause a bone to break from a minor fall
Our specialists usually diagnose osteosarcoma using the combination of a physical exam and imaging tests, such as X-rays. A biopsy (removing a sample of tumor cells for review under a microscope) can confirm or rule out the presence of cancer cells.
Our pathologists perform specialized genomic and molecular tests to further analyze cancer cell features. We may use CT or other imaging scans to understand whether or where cancer cells have spread beyond the bone.
These details help us personalize your treatment plan and recommend appropriate therapies for a specific type of cancer. Learn more about diagnosing cancer.
A team of pediatric cancer doctors who specialize in bone cancer meets to discuss the details of every child’s care. We recommend treatments based on many factors, such as a tumor’s size and location and the cancer’s molecular makeup. Find out more about cancer treatments.
Osteosarcoma treatment usually involves some combination of:
- Chemotherapy and other medicines: Children with osteosarcoma receive chemotherapy at a dedicated inpatient clinic of University Hospital focused on meeting the unique needs of teens and young adults. Oncology-trained nurses and doctors closely monitor children and help manage any uncomfortable side effects.
- Surgery: Our orthopedic surgeons are skilled in performing intricate procedures to remove cancer while preserving healthy surrounding tissue.
- Post-surgical rehabilitation: Our experienced rehabilitative doctors work with patients (using physical therapy, orthotics or prosthetics) as they learn to adapt to any lasting effects of surgery.
- Radiation therapy: Our team includes radiation oncologists who have many years of experience treating pediatric cancer patients, from babies to young adults. These specialists use precise radiation therapy technologies to destroy bone cancer with a focus on children’s comfort and safety.
After treatment ends, a dedicated pediatric orthopedic oncology survivorship team follows patients as they grow up. We use leading science to monitor children and track their long-term health. We work to minimize the potential long-term effects of radiation exposure from medical imaging.
Children can access additional support through our childhood cancer survivorship program, which provides resources to help pediatric cancer survivors live healthy, active lives after treatment.
Our partnership with some of the world’s most respected childhood cancer researchers focuses on improving the lives of children affected by osteosarcoma and other rare cancers. As an academic research center, we offer eligible patients enhanced options for clinical trials, including new bone cancer therapies, close to home.
Read more about pediatric cancer clinical trials.
Make an appointment
Take the first step by visiting our cancer experts for testing, a second opinion or to learn about treatment options.
View osteosarcoma clinical trial opportunities
As the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center in Central and South Texas, we offer you access to some of the nation’s newest cancer advances.
Scientists in our laboratories explore novel treatments for rare sarcoma cancers. If you are eligible for clinical trial treatments, your doctor will explain how they may fit into any phase of your care.
Meet our team
Our team includes cancer experts from different medical specialties who share a commitment to delivering precise, personalized care.