Bone tumors are abnormal tissue masses created by cells that divide uncontrollably. They can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign).
Whether or not they’re malignant, bone tumors can damage healthy tissue and weaken your bones, which may put patients at risk for fractures or other injuries. Other times, bone tumors may cause little-to-no problems.
Benign bone tumors
- Giant cell tumor
- Nonossifying fibroma
- Osteoid osteoma
- Unicameral bone cyst
Cancerous bone tumors
- Ewing tumors
- Multiple myeloma
- Limited function
- Night sweats
- There is no known cause or prevention method for most bone tumors.
- Age (some bone tumors are more common in children and young adults, while others affect older populations)
- Bone disease
- Family history of bone cancer
- Gender (bone tumors are slightly more common in males)
- Taller height in children relative to their age
- Radiation exposure
- Medical history and symptom review. The provider will ask the patient about your symptoms, overall health and medication intake. The provider will also ask if the patient or his or her family members have a history of tumors.
- Physical examination. The provider will examine the affected area of the body for signs and symptoms of a bone tumor. The provider may also check other parts of the body for signs of tumors.
- Imaging tests. The provider may order an X-ray, MRI, PET scan, CT scan or bone scan to diagnose a bone tumor.
- Diagnostic tests. The provider may order a bone biopsy, alkaline phosphatase blood level test, blood calcium level test, parathyroid hormone test, blood phosphorus level test or other diagnostic exam.
- Conservative management. If the patient has a benign tumor, the provider may choose to monitor it over time with regular imaging tests to see if it changes or grows. Some benign tumors do not need treatment, while others require medication.
- Cancer treatments. If the patient has one or more malignant tumors, treatments such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy or targeted therapy medications may be used to contain, shrink and kill cancerous growths. See Markey Cancer Center for more information.
- Surgical treatment. Surgical treatment may be necessary if the tumor increases the chance of bone fracture and other complications. Malignant tumors may require more extensive surgery to stop the spread of cancer. In serious cases, amputation may be considered.
- If the tumor is malignant, follow-up visits are vital to ensure the cancer has not returned. Checkup appointments every three to six months may be required for a few years after your treatment, if not longer.
- Side effects from treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation may need to be monitored and treated for weeks, months or years after treatment is finished for malignant bone tumors.
- In some cases, bone cancer does not completely go away, and regular chemotherapy and other cancer treatments may be required for the rest of the patient’s life.
- If bone cancer spreads to other parts of the body, further treatment may be required.