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Our family doctor discovered by chance that our nine - year - old son had fibrous dysplasia. One of his leg bones - his shin - is growing too fast and it is too big. Is fibrous dysplasia a kind of tumor? How to treat it? Can it be cured?

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Fibrous dysplasia is a disorder which is characterised by proliferation of certain tissues within the bone, but it is benign. This actually means that one (monostotic fibrous dysplasia) or several (polyostotic fibrous dysplasia) bones in the body will grow uneven, brittle or deformed. The bones that are most affected are femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), ribs, skull, facial bones, humerus (upper arm), and pelvis. This disorder is not hereditary nor can it spread from one bone to another. The most probable cause is mutation of the gene (so this is considered to be a congenital disorder - the person is born with it) which results in formation of an abnormal type of fibrous bone. This fibrous bone grows during the years and causes the weakened area of the bone. That is why the bone can crack or it can be very painful. Fibrous dysplasia cannot be cured, it is progressive chronic disorder, but it can be treated surgically and non - surgically. The tissue may stop growing on its own, but the previous damage does not disappear. Bisphosphonates are used in this case to weaken the pain and to diminish the activity of cells that destroy the bone. However, surgery is often necessary if there is no response to medications, especially in case of fractures or tumors. Fibrous dysplasia is moved - scooped out and then bone grafting is done. Grafting is also not a permanent solution because the graft is replaced with more fibrous dysplasia as the time passes.
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