Top of the page
A bone sarcoma is a kind of tumour—a growth of abnormal cells in the bones. When the tumour grows out of control and destroys nearby tissue or spreads to other parts of the body, it's called malignant. That means it's a type of cancer.
Sarcoma is another name for a malignant bone tumour.
Bone cancer can spread to other parts of the body, like the lungs or lymph nodes.
The most common types of bone sarcomas include:
This tumour often appears in the wider ends of bones, in the knee, shoulder, and sometimes the pelvis.
This is a cancer of the cartilage. It's often found in the pelvis, upper leg, shoulder, and long bone shafts (the middle of bones).
There are other, less common bone tumours as well.
You may feel pain near the tumour.
You may feel swelling or a lump over the bone. If your tumour is near a joint, like your shoulder, hip, or knee, you may not be able to move your arm or leg freely.
Bone tumours can weaken your bones. Sometimes bones with tumours can break.
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and your past health. He or she will also examine you. If your doctor can feel a bone tumour or if you have other symptoms, you will get some tests. The tests can find out if it's cancer. They can also help your doctor figure out the best treatment for the tumour.
Your doctor may also find a tumour when taking X-rays or images for another problem.
The doctor may talk to you about what "stage" your cancer is. The stage refers to how large the tumour is and how far it has spread. It also includes the tumour grade, which describes what the cancer cells look like and how likely they are to grow and spread.
These can help the doctor find out what type of treatment you may need. And it may help to find a clinical trial that has treatments for your type of cancer.
Treatment for bone cancer is based on the stage of the cancer and other things, such as your overall health. The main treatments include:
You may need surgery to remove cancer from the bone or to remove part of the bone. A bone graft or metal part may be used to replace the bone that was removed. If cancer is found in an arm or a leg, the limb can usually be saved.
These medicines kill fast-growing cells, including cancer cells and some normal cells.
This uses high-dose X-rays to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumours. It may be used along with surgery or after surgery.
For certain types of bone tumours, other treatments may be used, such as a stem cell transplant, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy.
Your doctor will talk with you about your options and then make a treatment plan.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Andrea J. Evenski MD - Orthopaedic Surgery & Thomas M. Bailey MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
©2006-2023 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.