A bone tumor is a mass of tissue formed due to an abnormal multiplication of bone cells. A tumor can develop in any part of the bone and in any bone of the body. Tumors usually grow in size by invading and destroying surrounding tissue. Bone tumors can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body whereas malignant tumors spread throughout the body.
A bone tumor may originate within the bone itself (primary tumor) or may spread to the bone from another tissue or organ (secondary tumor). Tumors that commonly spread to the bone include tumors of the breasts, lungs, kidneys, thyroid and prostate.
Symptoms vary depending on the location and size of the tumor. Bone tumors can cause a dull aching pain at the affected site and may worsen with activity or at night. Fever and night sweats may also be present. Occasionally, a painless mass can be felt at the tumor site. A tumor may be discovered incidentally on an X-ray taken for other reasons such as sprain or injury. The affected bone is usually weak and prone to fracture.
To diagnose a bone tumor, your doctor will review your history, perform a thorough physical examination and order X-rays. Other imaging studies such as an MRI, CT or bone scan may also be recommended. A sample of bone tissue may be obtained for examination in the laboratory (biopsy) to identify the type of tumor.
Treatment depends on the type, location and size of the tumor.
Some benign tumors resolve on their own. Your doctor may recommend just monitoring a benign tumor periodically with X-rays to detect any changes.
Malignant tumors are usually treated by a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Treatment is usually provided by a team of specialists. The aim of treatment is to remove the cancer completely and maintain function of the affected body part.