Dr. Beauchamp describes a giant cell tumor.
Giant cell tumor is an interesting tumor that is destructive. It can be very aggressive where it grows, yet it’s benign. We have no idea what causes it. When we look at it under the microscope, it looks like it’s composed of cells that are normally present in bone whose job it is, is to remove bone. So, when we look at cells in bone, we’ve got cells whose job it is to produce bone and other cells whose job it is to erode bone and dissolve it and as our skeletons are continually turning over all the time.
So it’s something that has triggered this process to occur that eats away bones, and it can do it to such a degree that it can create a huge problem that destroys joints, that can result in large surgical procedures being required to repair the damage that it’s created, and typically these tumors occur at the ends of the bones. The most common location is the knee.
So, sometimes we are able to deal with the problem by just removing it from inside the bone. We can scrape it out of the bone, fill that cavity with something, and what we usually use is bone cement, which we can fill the cavity with, and then we would follow patients very closely because this tumor has a very high tendency to come back and recur.
So, these patients are followed for a long time and usually the problem is evident within the first 6 to 18 months whether it’s going to be a problem coming back, but recurrences can occur for years later.
About Dr. Beauchamp, M.D.:
Dr. Christopher P. Beauchamp, M.D., is an orthopedic surgery and Associate Professor of Orthopedics at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. He focuses specifically on musculoskeletal oncology, adult reconstructive orthopedics, bone and soft tissue sarcomas, and infected, failed joint arthroplasty.