According to the American Cancer Society (2010), many medical centers, university hospitals and other institutions are conducting bone cancer research and clinical trials. Some are looking at ways to combine surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, while others are testing new chemotherapy drugs or new ways to combine drugs for successful treatment.
Researchers are also studying the link between bone cancer and genes. One known genetic factor that increases the risk of bone cancer is Li-Fraumeni syndrome. This condition is a gene mutation that runs in families.
Currently, some genetic tests may predict how aggressive a tumor is and how it is likely to respond to treatment. For example, scientists at the University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children discovered that the presence of a specific type of genetic mutation (the osteo3q13.31 deletion) in tumors points to a poorer prognosis for the type of bone cancer called osteosarcoma (Nebres, 2010). Knowing this mutation is present means doctors can treat the cancer more aggressively.
What’s New in Bone Cancer Research
Bone cancer research is ongoing, and scientists are studying new ways to predict and treat the disease. Here are some findings in bone cancer research in recent years:
- Looking into bone cancer and genes, researchers at the National Cancer Institute (2010) found that, in some families, a duplication of a gene called the T gene creates an increased risk for chordoma, a rare bone cancer that tends to run in families.
- Researchers at the University of Nottingham (2010) are investigating using the harmless bacterium, Salmonella typhimurium, to kill cancer cells in people with osteosarcoma.
- Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital are looking at ways to identify circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the bloodstream. These CTCs are responsible for the metastasis of cancer not only to bone but also to other parts of the body.
For secondary bone cancer (bone metastasis), researchers are looking at markers that may indicate the probability of a cancer spreading to the bones.
Bone Marrow Cancer Research
Research and clinical trials are also under way for bone marrow cancer, such as leukemia and multiple myeloma. For example, the Cleveland Clinic Chronic Leukemia