A combination of surgery and chemotherapy is used to treat osteosarcoma. Radiation treatment is generally not useful. Often chemotherapy is given to try to shrink the tumor and to prevent its spread.
After initial chemotherapy, X-rays are repeated to see how well the tumor responds. The results will help the doctors decide the type of surgery that will be necessary to save the limb or if amputation is needed.
In the past, amputation was the most common surgery used, but limb-salvage procedures are becoming more common. In this procedure, the cancerous bone and tissue are removed and replaced with artificial material or bone from another part of the body. However, the limb-salvage procedure is not always possible. The decision to perform this procedure will be made only if the X-rays and scans show there is no spread of the tumor and that the tumor can be completely removed with tumor-free margins.
If these options cannot be done or if the bone would not be strong enough, amputation is the only option. If an amputation is performed, an artificial limb is provided when healing is complete. In many cases, artificial limbs work well.
After surgery, sometimes additional chemotherapy is needed. Osteosarcoma can often spread to the lungs. Your child will have chest CT scans to check for tumors in the lungs. The treatment for lung tumors is surgery or more intensive chemotherapy. Sometimes more than one operation is needed to take out the tumors in the lungs. This treatment can be very effective in improving the survival rate of children whose lungs become involved.