Osteosarcoma treatment in children and adults in Korea

What is osteosarcoma?

Osteosarcoma is a malignant tumor of the skeletal bones, which is rare compared to other cancers. Most commonly found in children and adolescents aged 10-20 years, twice as often in men. In 80% of cases, long bones closer to the knee are affected. Doctors have also detected case on the pelvis, shoulders and jaw bones.

Malignant bone tumors can be divided into primary (appear immediately in bone tissue) and secondary tumors (metastasis of the underlying disease in the bone). Osteosarcoma destroys healthy bone tissue and forms a tumor, spreads to neighboring muscles, nerves, vessels and bones. It can metastasize to the lungs, other bones and other organs.

Symptoms and risk factors for osteosarcoma

Symptoms of osteosarcoma can be easily confused with normal injuries, especially if the child is engaged in sports.

  • pain in the bones or joints: occurs after active training or bruises, eventually increases;
  • swelling next to the bone;
  • injuries or broken bones for no apparent reason.

Proven risk factors for osteosarcoma:

  • Genetic predisposition: in children with congenital retinoblastoma (malignant eye tumor) the risk of osteosarcoma increases many times compared to normal children;
  • presence of other bone diseases: Paget’s disease, fibrous dysplasia;
  • radiation therapy in the past (often in adulthood).

We recommend to see a doctor if the child complains of constant, non-passing or recurring pain in the bones or joints, fever in the place of pain at normal body temperature.

Hospitals specializing in the treatment of osteosarcoma in Korea

Medical Avenue has extensive experience with various hospitals in Korea (1st hospitals – Samsung Medical Center, Severance Hospital, St. Mary, Seoul National University Hospital; 2nd level hospitals – Ajou University Hospital, Cha Ilsan, etc.). The experience of our patients is important to us. Thus, our coordinators conduct a thorough assessment of the work of all: hospitals, doctors and medical staff. Our accumulated experience allows to make recommendations individually: according to the diagnosis and wishes of patients.

NOTE: Medical Avenue recommends Professors So Song Uk at Samsung, Kim Seung-hyun at Severance, among other top doctors.

Information about cancer treatment in South Korea
Information about cancer treatment in South Korea

Preliminary plan of examinations on osteosarcoma in Korea

When contacting hospitals in Korea, a detailed examination is carried out to determine the stage of the spread of the disease and the presence of metastasis. Osteosarcoma metastasizes to the lungs and other bones, so, in addition to bone examination, a lung examination will be carried out.

Список обследованийСтоимость
– X-rays
– Full-body bone scans
– CT
– Biopsy (surgical or puncture)
– PET-CT (if necessary)1,200$~1,500$
– Revision of histological glasses (if a biopsy is done in your country and histological glasses were brought in)300$~600$2
1 Cost according to these surveys. If there are comorbidities, the list of surveys and the cost may change.
2 Depending on the levels of histological research, the cost may increase.

Preliminary treatment plan for osteosarcoma in Korea

The treatment plan is based on the results of examinations, size and location of the tumor, stage, age and condition of the patient.

Surgical treatment:

In the recent past, amputation of the affected limb was the available treatment. Fortunately, with the development of technologies and the introduction of chemotherapy, organ-preserving operations with further chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy if necessary are the common treatment plan. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, reconstructive surgery is sometimes required to preserve limb function. The ways of reconstruction can be:

  • Arthroplasty: replacement of a joint with an artificial one, installation of sliding endoprostheses for growing children is possible, individual production
  • Arthrodesis: artificial joint ossification
  • Allogeneic graft: using a donor bone
  • Autogenous bone graft: the removed bone is used after special processing
  • Bone cement


Recently, chemotherapy is prescribed before and after surgery. Prior to surgery, it is prescribed to reduce the tumor and preserve the limb as much as possible; after surgery it is to kill cancer cells that could remain in the body.


It can be prescribed to prevent relapse, inoperable tumor, pain due to metastasized osteosarcoma.

Возможные варианты леченияСтоимость
– Operation18,000$~45,000$1
– Chemotherapy$2,500
RadiotherapyFrom $500 per 1 session3
1 The cost may change, according to the method, the volume of surgery and the individual characteristics of treatment. The price includes basic hospitalization in a multi-seat ward.2 Protocol appoints an oncologist based on the results of all surveys. The cost depends on the assigned protocol. When prescribing immunotherapy, the cost may increase.3 The cost of radiation therapy will depend on the type of therapy, the number of courses, dosage.

Approximate schedule: examination and treatment of osteosarcoma in Korea

  • Day 1: consultation with a professor, appointment of examinations
  • 2 ~ 7 days: examinations (depending on the condition, there may be hospitalization)
  • 8 ~ 9 day: secondary consultation, test results
  • Surgery: on schedule, hospitalization for 1-2 weeks1
  • Outpatient appointment based on biopsy results, prescribing further treatment.2

1 The period of hospitalization may be extended depending on the volume of the operation and the recovery period. 2 The stay may change depending on the patient’s condition, the type of surgery and the schedule of the ward in which the treatment will take place.

Advice from a medical coordinator for the treatment of osteosarcoma in Korea

  1. Be sure to follow the regimen and recommendations during treatment.
  2. Bring with you all the medicines you take on a permanent basis (for the caregiver and the patient), black tea, porridge, cereals, etc.
  3. Our company understands the importance of care not only in the hospital, but also outside of the hospital, even after hours. Since the treatment is long, there is a need to find a residence, renew the visa, solve various household issues, cellular communication and more – all our coordinators do this for free, sincerely helping during this difficult situation.
  4. For young patients and their families, we try to hold various activities (picnics, birthdays), as well as help with fundraising for treatment on social networks and foundations.

Frequently asked questions about the treatment of osteosarcoma in Korea

Is it possible to do just one type of treatment (surgery or chemotherapy) so as not to stress the child?

Before the 70s, treatment consisted only in amputation and the percentage of 2-year survival did not exceed 20%. Conversely, when only chemotherapy was given to patients with early stage osteosarcoma, only 10% were completely cured. Therefore, the standard protocol is chemotherapy before surgery (usually 4 courses) – surgery – chemotherapy with / without radiotherapy after surgery. The number of courses of chemotherapy is decided by the professor depending on the stage of the disease.

What are the treatment expectations?

At an early stage without metastases to the lungs, the percentage of 5-year survival is 65-80%. If, at the time of diagnosis, there are already metastases in the lungs that can be removed surgically, the rates are 20-60%.

The child complains of legs pain, is it worth to check for oncology?

No, leg pain is common in children between the ages of 4 and 10. This is due to the growth of bones, which causes pain in the muscles and nerves. Such pain usually occurs in the evening in both limbs. If the pain is in only one leg, there is fever, then it is advisable to go to the hospital so that an experienced doctor excludes an inflammatory process or oncology.

How often should you follow up after the end of treatment?

After the end of the entire treatment, the professor prescribes a plan for regular examinations. This is done in order to timely identify a relapse or possible side effects from the treatment received. Usually for the first 3 years, follow-up occurs every 2-4 months, then every 6 months. From examinations, X-rays of the operation site, CT of the lungs and bone scans to check for metastases are prescribed.

Does the cost of treatment differ if you go directly to the hospital?

No, in Korea, companies are efficiently and transparently regulated by local laws. The cost will be the same whether you go directly to the hospital, through friends, or through our company. The quality of services will vary significantly. Our company does not take money from patients. Our task is not only to organize the appointments and treatment, but to be with you during the entire stay in Korea. To do this, we have a head office in Seoul, where our coordinators themselves translate for you, advise on all treatment issues, help with household issues, and are just there when you need help. A professional approach to work will not only show you all the benefits of Medical Avenue, but also save you costs in Korea.

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