In Treatment

There are several types of treatments that are used in the care of children with osteosarcoma. The exact combination of treatments that is appropriate for your child depends on a variety of factors.


The doctor may remove the cancer and a portion of the surrounding healthy tissue and replace the bone with an artificial bone or a bone obtained from a cadaver. This is called a limb-salvage or limb-sparing procedure. Sometimes, a limb will need to be amputated. If feasible, chemotherapy may be given prior to the surgery to reduce the size of a tumor, which may help the surgeon salvage the limb. This will also assist the treating doctors in knowing how well the tumor responds to treatment.


Chemotherapy is the use of chemical agents (medications) to kill cancer cells. Many different medications may be used, either alone or in combination, to treat various cancers. The specific combination depends on the type and extent of the cancer. Commonly used chemotherapy agents to treat osteosarcoma include cisplatin, doxorubicin, and methotrexate. Ifosfamide and etoposide may also be used to treat certain patients with osteosarcoma.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation does not kill osteosarcoma cells well and is rarely used to treat this tumor.

Research Studies

The majority of children with cancer participate in research studies. This high rate of participation has been essential to improving the cure rates for children’s cancer.

Researchers design various studies to improve treatment and advance the understanding of cancer and its causes. Clinical trials are carefully reviewed and must be approved through a formal scientific process before anyone can be enrolled. If there is a research study “open” that your child is “eligible for,” you may be asked to allow your child to participate. It is also possible that your child will be asked to participate in more than one study.

Whether an individual is eligible for a particular study may depend on age, location of the cancer, the extent of the disease and other information. Researchers usually must limit their study to some of these characteristics to have a scientifically valid study. Further, researchers must follow exactly the same restrictions throughout the study.

If your child is eligible to participate in one or more study, your doctor will discuss these with you during an initial treatment conference (also called informed consent conference). The doctor will describe the study, potential risks of participation, and other information you need to decide whether or not you would like your child to participate in the study. You always have the choice to participate or not in research studies.

If you do choose to have your child participate in a study, you doctor will explain what type of information you will receive about the results of the study. The overall results of the research study will be published to inform the public and other researchers. No study will publish any information that identifies an individual.

Visit the Clinical Trials section of this website to learn more about the various kinds of research studies.

Last updated July, 2011

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