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A sarcoma is a bone tumor that contains cancer (malignant) cells. A benign bone tumor is an abnormal growth of noncancerous cells.
A primary bone tumor originates in or near a bone. Most primary bone tumors are benign, and the cells that
Malignant primary bone tumors account for fewer than 1% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States. They can infiltrate nearby tissues, enter the bloodstream, and metastasize to bones, tissues, and organs far from the original malignancy. Malignant primary bone tumors are characterized as either:
Osteogenic sarcoma, or osteosarcoma, is the most common form of bone cancer, accounts for 6% of all instances of the disease, and for about 5% of all cancers that occur in children. Nine hundred new cases of osteosarcoma are diagnosed in the United States every year. The disease usually affects teenagers, and is almost twice as common in boys as in girls.
Osteosarcomas, which grow very rapidly, can develop in any bone but most often occur along the edge or on the end of one of the fast-growing long bones that support the arms and legs. About 80% of all osteosarcomas develop in the parts of the upper and lower leg nearest the knee (the distal femur or in the proximal tibia). The next likely location for an osteosarcoma is the bone of the upper arm closest to the shoulder (the proximal humerus).
Ewing's sarcoma is the second most common form of childhood bone cancer. Accounting for fewer than 5% of bone tumors in children, Ewing's sarcoma usually begins in the soft tissue (the marrow) inside bones of the leg, hips, ribs, and arms. It rapidly infiltrates the lungs, and may metastasize to bones in other parts of the body.
More than 80% of patients who have Ewing's sarcoma are white, and the disease most frequently affects children between ages 5-9, and young adults between ages 20-30. About 27% of all cases of Ewing's sarcoma occur in children under age 10, and 64% occur in adolescents between ages 10-20.
Chondrosarcomas are cancerous bone tumors that most often appear in middle age. Usually originating in strong connective tissue (cartilage) in ribs or leg or hip bones, chondrosarcomas grow slowly. They rarely spread to the lungs. It takes years for a chondrosarcoma to metastasize to other parts of the body, and some of these tumors never spread.
Parosteal osteogenic sarcomas, fibrosarcomas, and chordomas are rare. Parosteal osteosarcomas generally involve both the bone and the membrane that covers it. Fibrosarcomas originate in the ends of the bones in the arm or leg, and then spread to soft tissue. Chordomas develop on the skull or spinal cord.
Osteochondromas, which usually develop between age 10-20, are the most common noncancerous primary bone tumors. Giant cell tumors generally develop in a section of the thigh bone near the knee. Giant cell tumors are originally benign but sometimes become malignant.
Author Info: Maureen Haggerty, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 2002This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare professional with any health concerns you may have.
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