Bone Cancer (Sarcoma)
When these cancerous growths begin in bone tissue, they are called primary bone tumors or sarcomas.
The outer part of bones is primarily made up of hard osteoid tissue, tough and flexible cartilaginous tissue, and thread-like fibrous tissue. Cells from these different parts of the bone can develop into sarcomas.
Pain is the most common symptom. Persistent or unusual pain or swelling in or near a bone can be caused by cancer.
Primary bone cancer is far less common than cancer that spreads (metastasizes) to the bones. Cancer that metastasizes to the bones from other parts of the body, such as the breast, lung or prostate, is called metastatic cancer.
Types of Malignant (Cancerous) Bone Tumors
There are several different types of bone tumors. Their names are based on the kind of cells that form the tumor as well as the affected area of bone or surrounding tissue.
Osteosarcoma (Osteogenic sarcoma)
Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone cancer and most often begins in the arms, legs or pelvis. Young people between the ages of 10 and 30 are more commonly affected by osteosarcoma, but about 10 percent of cases occur in people in their 60s and 70s.
Chondrosarcoma is the second most common primary bone cancer and occurs most often in adults. These tumors develop in the cells of cartilage, a soft form of bone-like tissue, and often occur in the pelvis, leg or arm.
Ewing tumor (Ewing sarcoma)
Named after Dr. James Ewing, the doctor who first described the disease in 1921, Ewing sarcomas are the third most common bone cancer and mainly affect children and teenagers.
Malignant fibrous histiocytoma (MFH) (pleomorphic undifferentiated sarcoma)
This cancer most often starts in the soft tissues, but can also begin in the bones, affecting the legs or arms. Usually occurring in older and middle-aged adults, MFH often spreads to other parts of the body like the lungs and lymph nodes.
Although this cancer starts more often in soft tissues, it can also begin in the bones, usually the leg, arm and jaw bones. Fibrosarcoma usually occurs in older and middle-aged adults.
Giant cell tumor of bone
This type of bone tumor has both benign (non-cancerous) and malignant forms. These tumors don't usually spread to other parts of the body and most often affect the arm or leg bones of young and middle-aged adults.
This tumor usually occurs in the base of the skull and bones of the spine, most often in adults older than 30 years. Chordomas tend to grow slowly and usually do not spread to other parts of the body.
Over 40 percent of primary bone cancers in adults are chondrosarcomas. In children and teenagers younger than 20 years, osteosarcoma (56 percent) and Ewing tumors (34 percent) are much more common than chondrosarcoma (6 percent).