Our orthopedic oncologists in use state-of-the-art procedures to preserve limb function in treating even the most complex and rare of cancers such as cancers of the bone and muscle. Orthopedic cancers begin as benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous) tumors, abnormal growths of cells, within the bone and muscle. Benign orthopedic tumors are more common and are rarely life-threatening.
It’s rare for bone tumors to develop within the bone itself. They tend to develop from other cancers in the breast, kidney, lung, prostate and thyroid. Although there are no specific causes found in most cases for bone tumors, possible causes include inherited genetic mutations, radiation and trauma.
The most common types of bone tumors include:
- Multiple Myeloma – Multiple myeloma, which develops in the plasma cells in bone marrow, typically affects middle-aged or elderly persons, and it is more common in men than women and in African Americans than Caucasians. Early myeloma may cause no overt symptoms, but as the disease develops, typical symptoms include bone pain, anemia, kidney failure and frequent infections.
- Osteochondroma – The most common benign bone tumors are osteochondromas that occur often in people between the ages of 10 and 20. These tumors usually form at the shoulder or knee as a cartilage-capped bony spur or outgrowth.
- Osteosarcoma – The most common malignant bone tumor is osteosarcoma that occurs often in people between the ages of 10 and 30. These tumors develop most often in the arms, legs and pelvis and are more common in men than women.
- Chondrosarcoma – The second most common form of malignant bone tumor is chondrosarcoma, which is commonly found in both men and women between 20 and 75. It usually occurs in the cartilage cells of the arms, spine, legs and pelvis bones.
- Ewing’s Sarcoma – Children and adolescents most commonly develop Ewing’s sarcoma, and is 10 times more common in Caucasian children than African-American, African and Asian children. This type of tumor often develops in the middle portion of the long bones of the legs and arms and can cause fever, weight loss, fatigue, paralysis, incontinence or numbness.
Symptoms of bone tumors include but are not limited to:
- Bone pain and tenderness that increases with time
- Development of a large, painful mass
- Pressure and stiffness around the mass
- Increased pain with activity or lifting
- Limping or decreased movement of the affected limb
Tumors within the muscle are very rare and are found to be benign most of the time. If a muscle tumor is found to be malignant, it can spread very rapidly and those with malignant tumors have a high mortality rate.
Common types of muscle tumors include:
- Leiomyoma – Both men and women can develop leiomyoma, a benign tumor of the smooth muscle that starts from the walls of blood vessels. They are most commonly found in women as uterine fibroids, which can cause heavy menstrual periods, pelvic cramping and pressure in abdomen.
- Rhabdomyoma – This is a rare benign tumor of the skeletal muscle. They may either be cardiac or extracardiac, with cardiac tumors most commonly found in infants and children. It is mostly associated with the tongue and heart.
- Leiomyosarcoma – Most commonly found in adults and specifically older adults, leiomyosarcomas are malignant tumors of the smooth muscles and can grow anywhere in the body.
- Rhabdomyosarcomas – Children are affected more by these tumors than adults. Rhabdomyosarcomas are malignant tumors of the skeletal muscle that grow in the arms and legs and can occasionally begin in the head and neck area and reproductive and urinary organs.
Symptoms of muscle tumors include but are not limited to:
- A muscle tumor first appears as a painless lump but becomes more painful as it grows.
- If the tumor is in the abdomen, it can cause abdominal pains mistaken for menstrual cramps, indigestion or constipation.
Surgery is the most common treatment for bone and muscle tumors, however if the tumor is malignant, treatment depends on the stage of cancer. Our orthopedic oncologists use special technology to remove the tumor and rebuild the bone or muscle with tissue transplantation or with specialized implants to preserve the limb’s function. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be used before surgery to shrink the tumor or after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. Learn more by talking to one of our skilled orthopedic oncologists.
For more information on orthopedic tumors, contact our Orthopedic Cancer Clinic.