Tumors of the bone

Tumors of the bone—or unusual cell growths—destroy the normal bony tissue. When these bone growths are localized, they are referred to as benign tumors, whereas the tumors that spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body, are called malignant growths. An Orthopedic Surgeon deals with all types of bone tumors:

What are the types of bone tumors?

Most tumors of the bone are the ones that have metastasized or travelled from another site of origin. In fact, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the primary bone tumors account for less than 1 percent of bone cancers.

The three most common forms of primary bone tumors are:


This is the most prevalent form of bone cancer—from the bone producing cells. This variety of bone tumors is more common in young adults and children.

Ewing sarcoma

This cancer is common between the ages 5 and 20. The location of these tumors are upper arm and ribs, upper and lower legs and pelvis. The tumors begin in cavities of the bone marrow—medullary cavities, but can even grow in soft tissues.


This type of tumor begins in the cartilage cells, in individuals between the ages of 40 and 70 years. The common sites of this tumor are: pelvis, shoulder, arm, leg and hip.

The common benign bone tumors are:

  • Osteochondroma
  • Osteoid osteoma
  • Enchondroma
  • Giant cell tumor
  • Osteoblastoma

What are the symptoms of bone cancer?

Pain: Bone cancers present with pain at the tumor site—mostly described as dull pain. This pain gets worse with activity, and is severe enough to wake the patient from sleep.

Weakness: Bone tumors cause bones to weaken, which often leads to bone fractures on minor trauma.

Fatigue: Some bone tumors present with fatigue, and unintended weight loss, along with night sweats.

Painless mass: In some cases, there is just a painless mass at the affected site.

What are the risk factors for bone tumors?

  • Inherited syndromes: certain inherited syndromes, like hereditary retinoblastoma and Li-Fraumeni syndrome cause genetic mutation that makes the patient prone to bone cancer. I this case, the patient would give the history of having multiple cases of bone cancer within the family.
  • Radiation therapy: exposure history to radiation such as that for any other cancer can predispose to the risk of developing bone tumors later in life.
  • Paget’s disease: this bone-forming disease predisposes to the formation of tumors.

How to treat bone tumors?

The mainstay of treatment for bone tumors is: surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Surgery: the focus of surgery is to remove the tumor until cancer-free margins are achieved. In case of involvement of the arms and leg, the healthcare provider performs what is known as limb salvage surgery. The idea of this type of surgery is to preserve the muscles, nerves and blood vessels and the bone is replaced with a metal implant. Following the tumor removal, reconstruction is done as per the needs of the patient.

Radiation therapy: radiation is done before surgery as an adjuvant to reduce the size of the tumor before removal. The shrinkage of the tumor is achieved with high-dose x-rays, and the latter also helps in pain management and prevention of bone fractures.

Chemotherapy: this is done when there are high chances of metastasizing of tumor cells. Chemotherapy kills the rapidly growing tumor cells and can be used before or after the surgery.

The recovery from bone cancer depends on the type of the tumor, the overall health and age of the patient. However, in the long run, treatments can impact different organs, which is why regular checkups with Best Orthopedic Surgeon in Multan are mandatory.