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Bone Cancer

Bone Cancer Facts

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Bone cancer is a malignant tumor of the bone that destroys normal bone cells. Primary bone cancer is rare. The majority of people who have cancer in their bones have a secondary bone cancer. This means that the cancer in their bones develop from the spread, also known as a metastasis, from another cancer which developed elsewhere in their body. Bone cancer refers to the cases in which the cancer starts in the bone cells and does not include cancers that have spread to the bones. Secondary or metastatic bone cancer may be properly referred to as a carcinoma based upon where it first arose. Primary bone cancers are called sarcomas.

Bone cancer is most common in children and adolescents. It is less common in older adults. There are several different types of bone cancer, and they can occur in any of the bones.

Types of Bone Cancer

  • Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer. It is most common in males between 10-25 years of age, but it can also occur in older adults. The most likely locations for developing osteosarcoma are in the long bones of the arms and legs near the growth regions of the knees and shoulders. This is often a very aggressive cancer, and it can spread (metastasize) to the lungs.
  • Ewing's sarcoma is a very aggressive bon cancer. It is more common in younger children between 4-15 years old. It is more common in boys and very rarely seen in those over 30 years of age. It is most commonly found in the middle portions of the long bones in the arms and legs. It can also spread to the lungs and other body tissues.
  • Chondrosarcoma is the second most common bone cancer. In contrast to the previously described tumors, chondrosarcoma develops from the cartilage cells, not from the bone cells themselves. The pelvis and the hip and shoulder bones are most commonly affected. It is most common in people over 40 years of age. It can also spread to the lungs and lymphatic system.
  • Malignant fibrous histiocytoma (MFH) is a rare type of cancer which more commonly arises from soft tissues than from bone. When it arises in bone, it is treated as though it was an osteosarcoma. It is most common in people 50-60 years old. It is most common in the arms and legs, and is more common in males.
  • Fibrosarcoma is a rare soft tissue tumor that most commonly occurs around the knee. It usually affects people 35-55 years old and is more common in males.
  • Chordoma is a very rare tumor usually seen in people over 30 years old. It is most commonly found in either the lower or upper ends of the spinal column.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/20/2017

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Cancer in the bone

Medical definition of Bone cancer

Bone cancer

A malignancy of bone. Primary bone cancer (cancer that begins in bone) is rare, but it is not unusual for cancers to metastasize (spread) to bone from other parts of the body, such as the breast, lung, and prostate. The most common type of primary bone cancer is osteosarcoma, which develops in new tissue in growing bones. Another type of cancer, chondrosarcoma, arises in cartilage. Ewing's sarcoma begins in immature nerve tissue in bone marrow. Osteosarcoma and Ewing's sarcoma tend to occur in children and adolescents, and chondrosarcoma occurs most often in adults. Pain is the most frequent symptom of primary and metastatic cancer in bone. Bone cancer can also interfere with normal movements and can weaken the bones, leading to fractures. Diagnosis of bone cancer is supported by findings of the medical history and examination, blood tests (including measuring the level of the enzyme for the enzyme alkaline phosphatase), and X-ray studies, and it is confirmed by a biopsy. Treatment depends on the type, location, size, and extent of the tumor. Surgery is often the primary treatment. Although amputation of a limb is sometimes necessary for primary bone cancer, chemotherapy has made limb-sparing surgery possible in many cases. Radiation may also be used.


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