Bone cancer is a relatively rare disease in which cancer cells grow in the bone tissue. Cancer occurs when cells in the body (in this case bone cells) divide without control or order. Normally, cells divide in a regulated manner. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably when new cells are not needed, a mass of tissue forms, called a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant tumors, which can invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor does not invade or spread.
Cancer may form in the bone or spread to the bone from another site in the body. When cancer starts in bone tissue, it is called primary bone cancer. When cancer cells travel to the bone from elsewhere, it is called secondary or metastatic cancer to the bone. Types of bone cancer include:
- Osteosarcoma—a cancerous tumor of the bone, usually of the arms, legs, or pelvis; the most common primary cancer.
- Chondrosarcoma —cancer of the cartilage; the second most common primary cancer.
- Ewing's sarcoma —tumors that usually develop in the cavity of the leg and arm bones
- Fibrosarcoma and malignant fibrous histiocytoma—cancers that develop in soft tissues (eg, tendons, ligaments, fat, muscle) and move to the bones of the legs, arms, and jaw
- Giant cell tumor—a primary bone tumor that is malignant (cancerous) only about 10% of the time; most common in the arm or leg bones
- Chordoma—primary bone tumor that usually occurs in the skull or spine
The sooner bone cancer is treated, the more favorable the outcome. If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor immediately.