bone cancer

Bone Cancer, Its Types and Diagnosis

Dr. Kapil Kumar
15 Nov 2018
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Bone Cancer is a malignant tumor that arises from abnormal cells and forms a lump or mass in bones. Some of the bone cancers include Osteogenic Sarcoma and Chordoma. Surgery is still the primary method of treatment. Know more about types, risk factors, diagnosis and treatment of bone cancer in detail.

Bone cancer can take place in any of the bones in the body, but it most often occurs in the pelvis or the long bones in legs and arms. Cancer that begins in the bone is very rare, it is not the same diseases as cancer that starts in another part of the body and spreads to other bones.

Bone cancer is a type of malignant tumor that arises from the cells that make up the bones of the body. It is also known as primary bone cancer that arises in the bone tissue itself and could be benign or malignant. Benign bone tumors are more common than bone cancers, they start when cells in the bone divide rapidly without control, forming a mass of tissue. Benign bone tumors are not cancerous and do not spread to other parts of the body but they have the potential to weaken the bones and lead to broken bones or cause other problems.

Symptoms of Bone Cancer

Some of the symptoms of bone cancer include the following:

  • Pain in many parts of the joints that gets worse at night or whenever you move such as sitting, walking, standing, and running etc., the pain is worsened with time.
  • Excessive swelling, lump or mass development in the long bones of the limbs. Sometimes if the cancer is in the bones of the neck, the lump can grow at the back of the throat, which can cause difficulty in swallowing and breathing.
  • Fractures, weakening of the bones or severe pain in the bone that had been sore for few months
  • Unintended weight loss and fatigue
  • Feeling of tiredness in the body
  • Feeling of numbness and tingling or even weakness
  • Cancer in the bones of the spine can press on nerves
  • If the cancer spreads to internal organs such as the lungs, it can cause trouble breathing.

Risk Factor Associated With Bone Cancer

Bone cancers are more common among children and younger adults as compared to older people. Cancer, if found in bones of an older adult can really be risky, it might have spread to the bone after originating from another location in the body.

Some of the risk factors for bone cancers include the following:

  • If a previous treatment was done with radiation therapy
  • If the previous chemotherapy was done with alkylating agents
  • Gene mutation known as the retinoblastoma (Rb) gene or other genes
  • Implantation of metal to repair previous fractures
  • If a patient is suffering from hereditary conditions like Paget's disease of bone, retinoblastoma Rothmund-Thomson syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, and Diamond-Blackfan anemia etc.

Types of Bone Cancer

The different type of bone cancer includes the following:

1. Osteogenic Sarcoma (Osteosarcoma):

Osteogenic sarcoma or Osteosarcoma is one of the most common type of bone cancer and prevalent among children and teenagers under the age group of 10-19 years. This cancerous tissue in osteosarcoma is more common among males; it begins at the ends of long bones in areas of active bone growth such as the knee, at the end of the thighbone (femur) or the shinbone (tibia) near the knee. Sometimes it can also develop in the bone of the arm.

2. Chondrosarcoma:

Chondrosarcoma may arise in the thigh areas, pelvis and shoulders of older grown-ups. It is grown in the subchondral tissue, which is the tough connective tissue among bones. It is considered the second most common primary cancer including the bones. It is a rare malignant tumor that originates in the larynx and sometimes encountered by otolaryngologists. It requires conservative surgery to be cured normally. Chondrosarcoma is one of the most common bone cancers. It arises from cartilage cells that are attached to or cover bone. It is more common in people older than 40 years of age, and less than 5% of these cancers occur in people under 20 years of age. It may either grow rapidly and aggressively or grow slowly. 


3. Ewing’s sarcoma: 

Ewing’s sarcoma is an uncommon tumor that either starts in the soft tissues surrounding the bones or directly in the bones. Mostly children and late teens under the age of 4-15 are affected by this and it is usually an aggressive type of bone cancer.

Ewing’s sarcoma

4. Pleomorphic sarcoma (malignant fibrous histiocytoma) of bone:

Pleomorphic sarcoma or malignant fibrous histiocytoma or MFH are typically not bone cancers but they may arise in softer tissues of the bone. Pleomorphic sarcomas are more common among the adults and can be found anywhere in the body.

5. Fibrosarcoma:

Fibrosarcoma is a rare type of bone cancer. Adults are more prone to this type of cancer and it mostly occurs around the knee areas. Fibrosarcoma mainly affects the fibroplasts cell, which is responsible for creating the fibrous tissue found throughout the body.


6. Chordoma:

Chordoma is also a very rare cancer, people who are under the age group of 30 years mostly suffers from this kind of bone cancer. Chordoma usually occurs in the bones of the skull base and spine. It is part of soft tissue tumors called sarcomas. Chordomas account for more than five percent of all bone tumors and about twenty percent of primary spinal tumors. Chordomas are complicated tumors because there are no symptoms initially and they grow very slowly.

Treatment of Bone Cancer

Some of the common treatments available for bone cancer include the following:

  • Surgical treatments are mostly done to remove bone cancers without amputation of the affected limb. Most of the times muscles and other tissues around cancer may also be removed. To help maximize functions of the limb a reconstructive surgery may also be needed.
  • Radiation therapy is a typical treatment that is suitable for cancers like chondrosarcoma and ewing sarcomas. When the cancerous cell does not respond well to high-dose chemotherapy, then radiation therapy or even a stem-cell transplant may be used. High doses of chemotherapy medications destroy the bone marrow and the harvested stem cells are returned to the body along with blood and transfusion. Over the next three to four weeks, the stem cells produce new blood cells from the bone marrow.
  • Targeted therapies are designed treatments that aim specifically at the cancer cells. Targeted medications are usually used in the treatment of giant cell tumors of bone that cannot be removed by surgery. Imatinib (Gleevec) is an example of one such targeted therapy drug that blocks the signals from certain mutated genes and encourages the tumor cells to grow. This drug is used to treat chordomas that have the potential of spreading to other parts of the bone or that had recurred after the treatment.
  • Clinical trials are another type of treatment for bone cancers where doctors make a combination of medications or procedures for delivering the best treatment to patients.

We hope this article was helpful in clearing your doubts about bone cancer. To get more information and updates about Bone Cancer and other related Cancer you can follow Elacancer blog or call us at +91-8929020600

Dr. Kapil Kumar

About the Author

Surgical Oncologist
Dr. Kapil Kumar is an Oncologist and cancer specialist practicing at BLK Hospital in Rajendra Place, Delhi. He specializes in Breast cancer, Oncoplastic surgery, Upper G.I. Onco surgery, Pancreatic Biliary surgery, and Thoracic surgery including Esophagus cancer. He has completed his MBBS from Amritsar Government Medical College and Hospital. Further, he pursued MS from Amritsar Government Medical College and Hospital. Dr. Kapil is a member of Indian Society of Oncology (I.S.O.) and International Society of Diseases of Esophagus. He is also a member of Delhi Medical Association (D.M.A.). He got Dhanvantari award from Cholay 1 Foundation for Onco- Surgery work. He has worked in various hospitals as Senior Consultant Oncologist. Dr. Kapil has an experience of more than two and a half decade in this field. BLK Hospital is JCI, NABH and NABL accredited. It is one of the most successful and largest private sector hospitals situated in Delhi. Book appointment with Dr. Kapil Kumar at
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