A bone tumor is an abnormal growth of cells within the bone that may be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). The cause of bone tumors is unknown. They often arise in areas of rapid growth. Possible causes include:

  • Genetic defects passed down through families
  • Radiation
  • Trauma

Osteochondromas are the most common benign bone tumors. They occur most often in young people between the ages of 10 and 20.

Cancers that start in the bones are called primary bone tumors. Cancers that start in another part of the body (such as the breast, lungs, or colon) are called secondary or metastatic bone tumors. They behave very differently from primary bone tumors.

Cancerous primary bone tumors include:

  • Chondrosarcoma
  • Ewing sarcoma
  • Fibrosarcoma
  • Osteosarcomas

Cancers that most often spread to the bone are cancers of the:

  • Breast
  • Kidney
  • Lung
  • Prostate
  • Thyroid

Bone cancer is more common in persons who have a family history of cancers.

Bone Tumor Symptoms

Some benign tumors have no symptoms. If symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Bone fracture, especially from slight injury (trauma)
  • Bone pain, may be worse at night
  • Occasionally a mass and swelling can be felt at the tumor site

Bone Tumor Diagnosis

The most important part of any cancer diagnosis begins with understanding the location of the tumor, how it is growing and structures it might be hurting by its growth. With bone and soft tissue tumors, imaging is critical to establishing the right diagnosis, so the treatment is appropriate for both the cancer and the patient.

We know that there is tremendous anxiety when learning about a cancer diagnosis. That is why our clinic is set up so you can meet our health care practitioners the same day as your first appointment with one of our orthopaedic oncologists and will be able to discuss a potential treatment plan that day.

If you already have imaging, our doctors will read it the same day as your clinic appointment. We may also order additional testing, including:

  • X-rays
  • MRI
  • CT

All of these tests have advantages in terms of visualizing the tumor and making decisions about the best course of treatment.

Bone Tumor Treatment Options

At Wake Forest Baptist, a team of cancer specialists will work together with you to provide the most advanced personalized treatment available.

Once you have diagnostic imaging and biopsies complete, one of our orthopaedic oncologists will discuss a treatment plan with you. Typically, the treatment for these types of tumors is surgery and perhaps chemotherapy.

Our physicians are known as experts in removing tumors and performing reconstruction. Part of our expertise extends to limb sparing surgery and we perform this surgery when possible.

Some of our additional surgical techniques include:

  • Resection of tumors
  • Reconstruction
  • Latest and state of the art allografts
  • Limb resection techniques

Because of our multidisciplinary approach to treatment for all cancers, Wake Forest Baptist has been designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of only 41 in the country.