John Han-Chih Chang, MD and Kenneth Blank, MD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
I recently spoke to a woman who has "myeloma". She claims that she gets tumors if she breaks bones or fractures parts of her body. She was calling the tumor a "bone tumor." How is this different from an osteosarcoma?

Ken Blank, MD and John Han-Chih Chang, MD, OncoLink Editorial Assistants respond:

Thank you for your question.

Myeloma (also called multiple myeloma) is a completely different cancer from osteosarcoma. Neither of these cancers are caused by broken bone and, as with almost all cancers, the cause is a combination of genetics and environment. However, it is not uncommon for people with these cancers to experience broken bones as the cancer weakens the bone making it prone to fracture.

"Cancer of the bone" is an oft used and misunderstood term. When cancer is in a bone it can be of many types. For example, breast and prostate cancer can spread to the bones. When a cancer has spread from its point of origin-such as a beast cancer spreading to the bone- it is said to have metastasized.

Myeloma and osteosarcoma are two forms of cancer that arise in the bone.Myeloma is a cancer of the blood cells (which are produced in the bonemarrow) and osteosarcoma is a cancer which originates from bone cells called osteoblasts. However, they are very different tumors with different prognosis and treatments.

For more information on these cancers please a similar question by asked by another OncoLink reader entitled Bone cancer

Ken Blank, MD
John Han-Chih Chang, MD
Editorial Assistants for OncoLink


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