• COVID-19
    Osteosarcoma
    Read the story of ASCP Patient Champion John and learn about the role
    of laboratory testing in the diagnosis and treatment of Osteosarcoma.

WHAT IS OSTEOSARCOMA?

Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that begins in the cells that form bones. Osteosarcoma is most often found in the long bones — more often the legs, but sometimes the arms — but it can start in any bone. In very rare instances, it occurs in soft tissue outside the bone. Osteosarcoma most often occurs in teenagers and young adults, but it can also occur in younger children and older adults.

Osteosarcoma is rare and only occurs in less than 1,000 cases each year in the United States. If the disease is caught early, the long-term survival rates are typically around 70-75%. This type of cancer is diagnosed by a combination of imaging tests and biopsy testing, so a combination of radiology and pathology.

Osteosarcoma

Conventional osteosarcoma is identified by pleomorphism (all of the cells look different), large bizarre nuclei (the large dark areas containing tumor DNA), and sometimes osteoid (little foci of bone within the tumor, not seen here).

ASCP Patient Champion Osteosarcoma John

“Believe in your ability to get well and ask questions about your lab tests to your healthcare providers. Be well informed to make the best decision for yourself. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and always work towards that day when you feel 100 percent healthy again.”

JOHN'S STORY

John was living a typical life of a 16-year-old teenager in sunny Boca Raton, Florida, where you find a plethora of golf courses, parks, and numerous beaches. Then, he began feeling a growing discomfort behind his knee for weeks after playing some sandlot football with friends. John assumed the pain was related to that, but as the pain got worse, John and his parents decided to have it checked. Initially, John’s parents sought physical medicine treatments to help with the pain but the pain worsened after treatments. Eventually, John’s parents decided to seek out bone specialist physicians, who saw the possible tumor.

John underwent a biopsy, which is a laboratory procedure where tissue is removed from the body for pathologists and laboratory staff to examine and determine if disease is present, and if so, what stage it has progressed to. The results from the biopsy came in and John’s parents were told he had osteosarcoma, a cancerous tumor in his left femur.

However, John’s parents never told him he was diagnosed with cancer. Instead, they told him he had some leg problems that needed to be treated with chemotherapy. This had a huge impact on John. He dealt with his symptoms every day as best he could and did not let his “leg problems” get him down too much. Aside from the occasional weakness, John was able to continue being a happy-go-lucky kid enjoying sports and socializing with his classmates.

It’s been 35 years since John’s diagnosis. He shares that having a positive attitude conquers all and that it has helped him keep going all these years. John shares his advice to patients in his adult life saying, "Believe in your ability to get well and ask questions about your lab tests to your healthcare providers. Be well informed to make the best decision for yourself. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and always work towards that day when you feel 100 percent healthy again".

Today, John has been able to live a fulfilling life as an adult. He eventually needed a left femur replacement as part of his follow up care where he underwent surgery to have a metal prosthesis implanted to restore the normal function in his leg. He’s been able to follow his dreams, passions, and most importantly to him, start a family. He is grateful every day for his life stating, "Life could have ended 30 years ago".