Childhood Cancer

Osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma is the most common type of childhood bone cancer. It typically develops from osteoblasts, the cells that make growing bone. It most commonly diagnosed in adolescents who are having a growth spurt. Osteosarcoma is more common in boys than in girls. 

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Latest Osteosarcoma grants

Jie Song, PhD, Principal Investigator
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Innovation Grants, Awarded 2017
Beau Webber, PhD, Principal Investigator
University of Minnesota
Young Investigator Grants, Awarded 2017
Peter J. Murray, PhD, Principal Investigator
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Springboard Grants, Awarded 2013

Latest Osteosarcoma blog posts

February 7, 2018

When 14-year-old U.S. Junior National Cyclist Arnav, fell off his bike and shattered his helmet during a race, the race official suggested he drop out. 

Arnav shook off the fall and went on to finish 9th.

Then, just weeks later, Arnav’s leg began bothering him. He developed a noticeable limp—but it seemed typical for an athlete who was training four to six hours a day, six days a week. Rest and ice did nothing to curb the pain. Arnav kept racing, even though his leg ached. Then, Arnav had an MRI which revealed osteosarcoma, the most common type of bone cancer in children. Typically diagnosed in adolescence and more frequently in boys, osteosarcoma starts as pain around a joint. Often, like in Arnav’s case, the pain is attributed to a sports injury. 

A decade ago, Arnav’s diagnosis would have meant certain amputation.

You can’t ride a bike, if you don’t have a working leg. 

Lucky for Arnav and thanks to innovation in the field of orthopedic oncology, most children battling osteosarcoma today get a chance to save their leg and keep their mobility. 

For Arnav, who is now 15 years old, that meant he could hold on to his cycling dreams. Watch more of Arnav’s inspiring story of positivity and victory in the face near-certain defeat:

 

August 28, 2017

by Trish Adkins

Every year, over 250,000 new cases of cancer affect children around the world. Every day, 250 of these children will die from cancer. Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease for children in the United States.  Despite these facts, childhood cancer research is consistently and vastly underfunded. There are dozens of types and hundreds of subtypes of childhood cancer—and many of these types have no known cures. 

Despite all these facts, there is so much hope for children battling cancer. Childhood cancer families, researchers, friends and communities have joined together with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to find cures for all types of childhood cancer. ALSF began with one little girl’s dream and has now grown into a worldwide movement to find safer, more effective treatments. Since 2005, ALSF has funded over 690 research grants, powering breakthroughs and getting closer to cures for all. 

Here are five videos that tell the story of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and will change the way you think about childhood cancer forever:

1. ALSF Founder and Original Lemonade Girl: Alex Scott

Alex Scott was just 3-years-old when she held her first lemonade stand in her front yard. It seemed to be just a lemonade stand, but it started a movement to cure childhood cancer. 

Before Alex died in 2005, she raised over $1 million for childhood cancer research. She left all of us with a legacy and a directive to continue the fight for cures, one cup at a time. 

2. Survivor Turned Oncology Nurse: Taylor

When Taylor was 11-years-old, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. After nine months of treatment, Taylor was declared cancer-free. Eighteen months later, she relapsed. 

Her family was desperate for a cure. Taylor enrolled in a clinical trial at Texas Children’s Hospital. The trial was possible due to an infrastructure grant funded by ALSF. The trial worked. Today, Taylor is cancer-free and studying to become a pediatric oncology nurse. 

3. Breakthrough Treatment Leading to Cures: Edie 

When Edie was just 5-months-old, she started having a severe upset stomach and trouble sleeping. Edie’s parents had a gut feeling this was not just a typical bug or stage of infancy. 

Edie was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma. Despite an aggressive treatment plan, Edie’s cancer continued to grow.  Testing showed that Edie carried the oncogene called anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK). ALSF funded-researcher Dr. Yael Mosse had a clinical trial for children with the ALK gene. The trial worked and today, Edie is cancer-free. 


4.  Living Proof that Research Works: Zach

Zach is a 12-year-old who loves playing baseball. 

When Zach was 5-years-old, he was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma. While still in treatment, Zach relapsed. His condition worsened. Zach was getting sicker and sicker. It was a race against time to save his life. Since standard treatment was not working, Zach’s doctors told his parents about a clinical trial funded by ALSF. His parents took the risk. Within a few days, Zach was running down the halls of the hospital. His cancer disappeared. 

5. From Cups to Cures: What Lemonade Can Do 

ALSF-funded researcher Dr. Jeffrey Huo knows firsthand that cups of lemonade can add up to cures for childhood cancer. 

When you donate and supporters all around the world donate, your cups of lemonade add up to enough funding for an experiment in a pediatric oncology. Those experiments give scientists pieces of data which they analyze and eventually use to publish a journal article with their findings. Several journal articles lead researchers to breakthroughs and those breakthroughs become cures for childhood cancer.

Want to get involved in the fight against childhood cancer? Check out Alex's Million Mile, the largest Childhood Cancer Awareness Challenge! We are going 1 million miles and raising $1 million for childhood cancer research! Start or join a team, fundraise for a cure and help us go the distance for kids with cancer!

Subscribe to the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation YouTube channel for more inspiration. 

June 21, 2017


by Adam Paris, ALSF  

Editor’s note: Previously, we shared Part 1 of Arnav’s story. If you missed that installment, read it here.

“Dad, so you’re telling me I beat half the nation’s best on a half-broken leg.” 

Arnav was riding home from the doctor after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma, the most common type of childhood bone cancer. The cancer was in his left leg. 

Arnav, as always, had what his father, Nitin, calls “relentless positivity.” 

His parents, however, struggled with their new normal. 

“Having to learn that he had cancer and that his leg would need surgery, just shattered my wife and me,” said Nitin. “We couldn’t put ourselves together.” 

Even with an unknown future looming, Arnav kept his relentless positivity. His parents began searching for an osteosarcoma specialist in the area, boiling down their treatment options to three hospitals. They chose Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and began preparations for Arnav's treatment, which began with pre-surgery chemotherapy.

Much to Arnav’s relief, the consulting surgeons told him that his leg wouldn’t need to be amputated. They told his family that removing the part of his leg affected by the cancer would suffice, but the particulars of the surgery would depend on Arnav’s future goals.

The surgeons devised two plans, one where he would receive an artificial knee that would recover quickly but restrict his athletic endeavors or he could embark on a year-and-a-half recovery time with a surgery that entailed reconstructing his knee. The second one meant that Arnav would be able to bike again, so his response was obvious.

“His aspirations were definitely to get back on the bike,” Nitin said. “We know he wants to get back on the cycle, we know he wants to compete and we’re fully supportive of whatever he wants to do.”

Arnav's surgery in November 2016 entailed reconstructing the leg with a donor bone, attaching fibula from the right leg, strengthening the entire leg by embedding steel rods, reconstructing the knee and then all stitched together through microvascular surgery, a type of surgery used to reattach the smallest blood vessels, as the final step of a 16-hour process.

Arnav’s pursuit of cycling again continues to pedal him forward and he uses that finish line as an inspirational endpoint for his journey.

“It’s my passion and it’s gotten me through this,” Arnav said. “Just knowing that I can race again after this.”

Arnav completed his final chemotherapy session in late April, which means the reconstructed bone will finally begin to heal. Throughout this entire process, there’s been an outpouring of support from his community, family and friends to help keep him going. 

“There were so many people we don’t know who have come and said, ‘Whatever you need, we want to help,’ and they have helped. It is amazing,” said Nitin. “Having a whole village around you is very important because you can’t do it by yourself.”

Even stronger than the rallying community is the bond between Arnav and his twin brother, Dhruv.  Already connected by their cycling commitment, this entire experience has brought the two even closer.

“Dhruv has not even once said, ‘I have this party to go to,’ or ‘I have this fun event with my friends,’ he has canceled all of those in a heartbeat and said I want to be with my brother,” said Nitin. 

“I think our bond really got stronger because he was really the only person I could play with,” said Arnav. “I think that just made our bond thousands of times better and it just grew tremendously.” 

The family’s resolve remains powered by Arnav’s courage and relentless positivity. That’s been the biggest takeaway for Nitin, who urges other families to maintain a positive outlook to help them through difficult times no matter what. Arnav knows that sharing his story of hope through Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation will help plenty others facing the same challenges as him.

“I think that getting the story out there so more people will know that there’s still hope and there’s a light at the end, that’s awesome,” said Arnav.

Going forward, Arnav’s dream is getting back on that bike, something he hopes to do by December. Beyond that point, he remains unsure, even if his parents may be pushing him towards becoming an osteosarcoma surgeon. 

“Who would be more empathetic to their patient than he could be?” Nitin said.

Missed the beginning of Arnav’s story? Read Part 1 here.

This September, Arnav and his family will join Alex's Million Mile, and help us go 1 million miles and raise $1 million for childhood cancer research! You can join, too! Get the details here.