Cases

Osteosarcoma

Sad face in the bone surrounded by the bone tumour cells.

Sad face in the bone surrounded by the bone tumour cells.

Last week,  ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ posted an x-ray of the leg of a poor dog with a bone tumour.  Unfortunately, this is quite a common tumour, and we diagnosed one in another dog a couple of days later.  This type of tumour is called an osteosarcoma (osteo = bone, sarcoma = a group of malignant tumours).

You can see the new bone formation in this picture of an x-ray from another dog with osteosarcoma.

You can see the new bone formation in this picture of an x-ray from another dog with osteosarcoma.

They form from the cells that produce bone during life.  There are a few cell types involved in bone formation.  Osteoblasts are cells which divide and mature to form osteocytes.  Osteocytes produce the bone itself.  Osteoclasts are cells which eat bone so that old or damaged bone can be replaced with new bone.  Any of these cells can become tumours.  So some of the tumours will produce lots of bone, whilst others will eat away at the bone.

Tumour cells (blue arrow) invading into a vessel (orange arrow indicates the wall of the vessel).  Black arrow: island of bone formed by the tumour cells.

Tumour cells (blue arrow) invading into a vessel (orange arrow indicates the wall of the vessel). Black arrow: island of bone formed by the tumour cells.

These tumours grow fast and can cause the bone they are growing in to break, known as a ‘pathological fracture’.  They are very painful and spread (metastasise) around the body by first invading vessels.  Osteosarcomas most commonly spread to the lungs where they can cause Marie’s disease.  Due to the painful nature of these tumours, which often occur on the legs, amputation is common to relieve the pain.  Unfortunately the microscopic tumours, which may have already spread around the body, are actually thought to grow faster once the primary tumour is removed…

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5 thoughts on “Osteosarcoma

  1. Hello! I’ve been following your blog for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Texas! Just wanted to mention keep up the excellent work!

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