Mesenchymal chondrosarcoma is a rare form of cancer, but one that can spread throughout its victims quickly. The following is important information for anyone who has received a diagnosis.
Mesenchymal chondrosarcoma is a type of chondrosarcoma, which itself is a type of bone cancer that has its origins in cartilage cells. This is why roughly 60% of cases of mesenchymal chondrosarcoma affect the patient’s bones. Usually, it attacks the ribs, spine or jaw. The rest of the time, the cancer actually develops in other areas of the body, like fat, muscle, and other type of soft tissue.
This chondrosarcoma spreads very aggressively, though, so even if it begins in the bones, it may end up elsewhere or vice versa.
Causes of Mesenchymal Chondrosarcoma
Sadly, mesenchymal chondrosarcoma is most common in children and teenagers. However, younger adults can be affected by this type of cancer as well. This is not the case with most forms of chondrosarcomas. That being said, there have been cases of patients all the way into their 70’s getting diagnosed. Females may have a slightly higher chance of having this type of cancer.
At this time, we also don’t know what causes mesenchymal chondrosarcoma. Due to its rarity, it’s difficult to pin down the underlying reason for its tumors to grow in the first place.
The best guess in the medical field, though, is that mesenchymal chondrosarcoma are the result of chondroblasts. These would be cartilage precursor cells that were never able to transition into mature chondrocytes, which are the types of cells you would otherwise find in someone with normal cartilage development.
Its designation of “mesenchymal” is a reference to the way the tumor cells appear: as primitive-looking versions of connective tissue cells.
Diagnosing Mesenchymal Chondrosarcoma
Obviously, if you ever have reason to suspect a growth on your body is cancerous, see a doctor ASAP. For those with mesenchymal chondrosarcoma, the initial warning sign is usually some type of either pain or swelling. Usually, this occurs in the patient’s limb, though other parts of the body could be affected as well, depending on where the initial tumor formed.
Though most only feel pain in the area affected by the tumor, others can suffer from far more intense symptoms. If the tumor begins at the spine, it can cause compression, which might lead to paralysis.
In some cases, mesenchymal chondrosarcoma is diagnosed by accident. A doctor may be doing an x-ray for one reason and simply stumble upon it in its early stages.
Even when the patient is showing an observable growth, formal diagnosis will almost never occur without first getting a look inside. For this, the doctor will proceed with either an x-ray, a CT scan or an MRI. If the doctor does find a tumor, then one of the latter two procedures will be necessary to further evaluate the growth. The rest of the body will also need to be evaluated to see how far the cancer was able to spread through the bloodstream.
As we mentioned, this is a very rare form of cancer, making up less than 1% of those diagnosed with sarcomas. That being said, its behavior can also make it very difficult to treat. On the one hand, this is an especially aggressive form of cancer. On the other hand, it can remain dormant for long periods of time as well.
Mesenchymal chondrosarcoma also, far more often than other types of chondrosarcoma, can end up in the lungs or spinal cord, even when it began far away in another part of the body. Like we mentioned above, though, sometimes this cancer actually begins at a patient’s spinal cord.
The good news is that the medical world is learning more about this type of cancer and what it takes to properly treat it.