A bone tumor is an abnormal growth of cells within the bone. A bone tumor may be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). While the cause of bone tumors is unknown, they often occur in areas of the bone that grow rapidly. Osteochondromas are the most common noncancerous bone tumor and occur most often in people between the ages of 10 and 20.
Cancers that start in the bones are referred to as 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. Multiple myeloma often affects or involves the bone, but is not considered a primary bone tumor. Cancerous bone tumors include chondrosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, fibrosarcoma and osteosarcomas.
Some benign bone tumors go away on their own and do not need treatment. Your doctor will closely monitor you. You will likely need regular imaging tests, such as x-rays, to see if the tumor shrinks or grows. Surgery may be needed to remove the tumor in some cases.
Treatment for cancerous bone tumors that have spread from other parts of the body depends on where the cancer started. Radiation therapy may be given to prevent fractures or to relieve pain. Tumors that start in the bone are rare. After biopsy, a combination of chemotherapy and surgery is usually necessary. Radiation therapy may be needed before or after surgery.