An abnormal growth of cells within the
bone that may be benign or malignant (cancerous).
Incidence and Risk Factors
The cause of bone tumors is unknown. They
may arise in areas of rapid growth. Other theories site heredity,
trauma, and radiation as other possible causes.
Bone tumors may be benign or malignant. Osteochondromas are the most
common benign bone tumors and occur most often in people between the
ages of 10 and 20. Some benign bone tumors regress on their own and do
not require treatment. These benign tumors are monitored periodically by
Malignant bone tumors occur as a primary bone tumor, or as metastasis,
spread from another area of the body. Primary bone tumors are rare (less
than 1% of all malignant tumors) and are more common in young men.
Malignant bone tumors include osteosarcomas, Ewing's
sarcoma, fibrosarcoma, and chondrosarcoma. Metastatic lesions to the
bone usually arise from cancer of the breast, lung, prostate, kidney,
and thyroid. These forms of cancer usually affects older people.
Bone cancer was prevalent among individuals who painted radium on watch
faces (to produce glow-in-the-dark dials), a practice that was abandoned
at mid-century. The painter would 'tip' the brush with their tongue (in
order to produce fine work) and absorb minute amounts of radium which
deposited in the bone and caused cancer. The incidence
of bone cancer is also increased in families with a history of familial retinoblastoma.
The incidence of bone cancer in children is approximately 5 cases per
million children each year.
pain, may be worse at night
a mass can be felt at the tumor
site if the disease is advanced
Note: Some benign
tumors have no symptoms.
This disease may also alter the results
of the following tests:
bone tumors may not require treatment, but may be assessed periodically
to check for progression or regression.
Primary malignant tumors require surgical removal, with a 3-inch margin
of normal tissue and lymph node resection. Often, an affected limb may
need to be amputated. Radiation
therapy may be indicated before and after the surgery. Chemotherapy
is often given after surgery.
Treatment for metastatic malignant tumors depends upon the primary
tissue or organ involved. Radiation therapy with chemotherapy or hormone
therapy is commonly used.
Prognosis varies depending on the type of
The outcome is expected to be good for people with benign
tumors, although some types of benign tumors may eventually become
malignant. With malignant bone tumors, survival varies from 50 to 75%.
Your Health Care Provider
Call for an appointment with your health
care provider if symptoms develop that is suggestive of bone tumors.
The cause of bone tumors is unknown;
therefore prevention is unknown.
of illness can often be helped by joining a support
group where members share common experiences and problems.