While cancer can form in the bones, the majority of tumors that develop there are benign (noncancerous). While they almost never pose a threat to a patient’s life, do not spread, and usually do not destroy healthy bone tissue, they can still grow and compress their surroundings, which can cause problems and may require treatment.
Benign bone tumors can cause:
- Pain (most common symptom)
- Lump or swelling
- Unexplained fracture
Other conditions can cause these symptoms, too, so it’s important to see a doctor.
In many cases, our doctors can carefully monitor a benign tumor, as it may not grow or cause problems. Some childhood tumors may fully resolve over time as the bone matures with age.
When needed, we treat benign bone tumors with several different methods, depending on the size, type and location:
- Surgery: many tumors are easily removed, with some scraped out
- Cryosurgery: the tumor or cyst is frozen with liquid nitrogen and destroyed
- Radiofrequency ablation: radiofrequency waves heat and destroy the tumor
Fast-Growing Benign Bone Tumors
Some benign bone tumors are often more aggressive and require additional care:
- Giant Cell Tumors: These rare tumors are generally found in adults ages 20 to 40 and can quickly cause damage, usually developing at the end of longer bones near joints. The knee, wrist, hips shoulders and lower back are frequent locations.
- Chondroblastomas: These tumors tend to develop in children and are found at the ends of longer bones in the arms or legs, where they can damage growth plates and joints.
- Aneurysmal Bone Cysts: These tumors tend to affect children and younger adults, return (recur) after treatment and cause the bones in the arms, legs, trunk or skull to expand dramatically.
- Osteoid Osteomas: These tumors can develop in any bone, causing extreme pain from the chemicals they make that affect surrounding nerves.