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Bone lesions are a type of abnormality in the structure and growth of a bone. While bone lesions can happen to any bone in the body, they commonly occur in the long bones, particularly those in the legs and arms. These can affect anyone at any age, but the incidence is usually higher among children and young adults. They can either be benign growths that are not cancerous, or cancerous tumors, which tend to grow and spread.
Several factors can lead to the development of bone lesions. These include infections, variations in growth, overuse of bones, and injuries to bones. Growth of bone tumors and bone cysts can also lead to these lesions. They can be small or large, and are frequently found on the bone surface. Some may be embedded inside a bone.
It is a common misconception that lesions are always cancerous. A majority of these lesions are benign and do not usually cause symptoms. The benign lesions are frequently found in the bones of the spine, pelvis, thigh, and arm. There are some benign lesions that can start out as passive lesions, but progress to eventually destroy the affected bone.
Two of the common forms of bone cancer that affect the growing bones of children and teenagers are osteosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma. Both are frequently seen in the long bones and often manifest as swelling and pain. They also have the tendency to spread in other organs of the body, such as the lungs and other bones. Osteosarcoma can be associated with other inherited cancer syndromes, while Ewing's sarcoma is often not.
Orthopedics, doctors who specialize in bone diseases, usually diagnose bone lesions with the use of X-rays. Images from this test often show the pattern of destruction in the bones as well as its size, shape, and exact location. They can also demonstrate the rate of growth of these lesions, and determine whether it is a slow or a fast growing one. Aside from this diagnostic tool, orthopedics also use other diagnostic procedures including computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and isotope bone scans.
Treatment of bone lesions often depends on their diagnosis. Bone cancers are usually treated with chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of both procedures. There are some benign lesions that require no treatment at all. Surgery is considered the most common treatment option for larger lesions, as well as those which have aggressively developed and destroyed the affected bones.