Bone Cancer (Sarcoma of Bone): Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 04/2020

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done to learn more about bone sarcoma and how to treat it. Use the menu to see other pages.

Doctors are working to learn more about bone sarcoma, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the best diagnostic and treatment options for you.

  • Immunotherapy. Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, is designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer. Mifamurtide (Mepact) is a nonspecific immune system stimulator approved as a treatment for bone sarcoma in some countries but not in the United States.

    Mifamurtide is not the only type of immunotherapy. Immunotherapy comes in many forms. Immune checkpoint inhibitors have created a lot of excitement in the field of cancer research. These drugs block a specific molecule, which then takes the brakes off the immune system and allows the immune system to fight the cancer cells. The molecules that are blocked have names such as CTLA4, PD-1, OX40, LAG3, and TIM3. They have proved helpful in many other types of cancers. Such treatments are being tested in clinical trials in sarcomas.

    against specific sarcoma proteins or other molecules are also being studied, often in addition to immune checkpoint inhibitors.

    Learn more about the basics of immunotherapy.

  • Targeted therapy. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. This type of treatment is able to specifically block the growth and spread of cancer cells and limit damage to healthy cells. Regular chemotherapy can damage the DNA of both cancer cells and normal cells. For example, PARP (poly ADP-ribose polymerase) inhibitors are 1 type of targeted therapy being studied in the treatment of Ewing sarcoma. Learn more about targeted treatments.

  • Myeloablative therapy. Myeloablative therapy is an intense regimen of very high doses of chemotherapy. It aims to destroy all cells that are dividing rapidly. This includes cancer cells but also some healthy cells.

    A patient may receive a bone marrow/stem cell transplant after myeloablative therapy to renew their blood cells more rapidly. During this transplant, stem cells are usually taken from the bone marrow or blood of the patient or a relative. Stem cells are cells that create all other types of cells in the body, in this case cells that will help new blood cells be made faster.

  • Radiation therapy techniques. Clinical trials are evaluating the usefulness of radiation therapy given inside the body during surgery for some Ewing sarcoma tumors. This is called intraoperative radiation therapy or internal radiation therapy. Other techniques are being used when bone sarcoma recurs at a distant, or metastatic, location in the body. These include radiofrequency ablation (RFA) and stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), which uses a small number of very focused, very intense radiation treatments to control or destroy a small area of tumor.

  • Palliative care/supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current bone sarcoma treatments to improve comfort and quality of life for patients.

Looking for More About the Latest Research?

If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding bone sarcoma, explore these related items that take you outside of this guide:

The next section in this guide is Coping with Treatment. It offers some guidance on how to cope with the physical, emotional, social, and financial changes that cancer and its treatment can bring. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.