In support of Supergirl Shanaya the First’s imminent arm amputation tomorrow, 2 March, 2018, we thought we would post something around the subject of Childhood Sarcomas and limb amputation.
Before we go any further though, please join the Little Fighters Cancer Trust in supporting Shanaya and her Family by downloading the pic on the left and using it as your Profile pic for today and the next few days to show them how much support there is for our little Butterfly Princess.
For those who may not have been following Shanaya’s journey with cancer, histology results on 13th September, 2017 confirmed that she had Stage 4 Ewing Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer. The bottom half of her left humerus had been eaten away; the top part of the left humerus was fractured and there were metastasis in both her lungs.
Shanaya has since undergone intense chemotherapy treatment cycles over the past 6 months, but unfortunately her arm was too damaged and could not be saved and the decision to amputate at the shoulder was made.
Osteosarcoma is one of the most common type of bone cancer, and a very common type of cancer in children. Although other types of cancer can eventually spread to parts of the skeleton, osteosarcoma is one of the few that actually begin in bones and sometimes spread (or metastasise) elsewhere, usually to the lungs or other bones.
Because osteosarcoma most often develops from osteoblasts (those cells that make growing bone), it usually affects teenagers who are experiencing a growth spurt. Boys are more likely to develop this disease than girls, and most cases of osteosarcoma involve the knee.
Most osteosarcomas arise from random and unpredictable errors in the DNA of growing bone cells during times of intense bone growth. There currently isn’t an effective way to prevent this type of cancer. But with the proper diagnosis and treatment, most kids with osteosarcoma do recover.
Osteosarcoma (also called osteogenic sarcoma) is a cancer of the bone that destroys tissue and weakens the bone. Osteosarcoma develops from immature bone cells that normally form new bone tissue.
Osteosarcoma most often starts in the bones around the knee joint, at the lower end of the femur (thigh bone) or the upper end of the tibia (shinbone).
Treatment of Childhood Osteosarcoma
Treatments for osteocarcoma may involve a combination of therapies including surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy. In most cases, children receive chemotherapy before surgery (neoadjuvant), a surgical procedure to remove the tumour and additional chemotherapy after surgery (adjuvant).
Treatment options will vary greatly, depending on your child’s situation. Your child’s doctor and other members of your care team will discuss the options with you in-depth. Prompt medical attention and aggressive therapy are important for the best prognosis.
Osteosarcoma surgery – depending on the size and location of the tumour and whether the tumour has spread, the child may receive one of the surgical treatments necessary to combat it including limb salvage surgery, amputation, or a rotationplasty. If the osteosarcoma has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, additional surgery may be required.
Amputation & Prosthetics
Sometimes amputation of the limb is unavoidable if the cancer is affecting the surrounding blood vessels and nerves.
After amputation, a false limb will be fitted and will be regularly adjusted as the child grows.
False limbs can work very well. It should be possible for a child to join in with normal activities and even sports.
There are two ways that limb-sparing surgery may be done:
- Replacing the bone with a prosthesis (a specially designed artificial part)
- Replacing the affected bone with bone taken from another part of the body (bone graft).
After this type of surgery, children will usually be able to use their limbs almost normally.
However, they are advised not to participate in any contact sports. This is because any damage to the bone graft or prosthesis may require another major operation to repair or replace it.
If a child is growing, the limb prosthesis will need to be lengthened as the bone grows. This may mean there are extra short stays in hospital, although some prostheses can be lengthened as an outpatient procedure
Rehabilitation & Supportive Care
Rehabilitation is an extremely important part of a child’s osteosarcoma care. This includes physical and occupational therapy, as well as help adapting to social situations.
The Little Fighters Cancer Trust and all our Families, Friends & Supporters wish Shanaya and her Family everything of the best with her operation tomorrow and subsequent rehabilitation.