Bone Tumors (Malignant)

Malignant (cancerous) tumors are more rare than benign tumors - and more dangerous. The term malignant means there is moderate to high probability the tumor will spread beyond where it first develops. The cancer cells spread by traveling in the blood or through the lymph vessels. Malignant bone tumors most commonly spread to the lungs or to other bones.

In the past 15 years, dramatic improvements have been made in treating malignant bone tumors. There has been an increase of five to 10 times in the likelihood of a cure for high-grade osteosarcoma, the most common malignant bone tumor. Today the chance of a cure is approaching 80%. In addition, the combination of better surgical techniques and better ways to reconstruct function after surgery now means patients lead fuller, more active lives after surgery. Spinal tumors can be treated with stereotactic systems similar to brain surgery. Newly designed prosthesis allow for more than 90% of the limb to be saved with surgery. The orthopedic surgeons at Cedars-Sinai are specialists in this surgery.

Malignant bone tumors can occur at almost any age. Osteosarcoma and Ewing's sarcoma, two of the most common malignant bone tumors, are usually found in people age 30 or younger. In contrast, chondrosarcoma, malignant tumors that grow as cartilage-like tissue, usually occur after the age of 30.

In all cases, the best treatment requires a thorough evaluation by an experienced doctor. Optimal treatment demands the combined skills of an exceptional surgeon, pathologist, radiologist, radiotherapist, medical oncologist and sometimes a plastic surgeon.

Malignant bone tumors include:

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