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Bone cancer types

Primary bone cancers are a specific subtype of a group of cancers known as sarcomas. Sarcomas are cancers that start in bone, muscle, connective tissue, blood vessels or fat, and can be found anywhere in the body. Types of primary bone cancers include:

Osteosarcoma, also known as osteogenic sarcoma, is the most common type of bone cancer and typically starts in bone cells in the arms, legs or pelvis. It occurs most frequently in people between the ages of 10 and 30, and is more common in males than females.

Chondrosarcoma forms in cartilage cells and is the second most common form of the disease. This type of bone cancer rarely occurs in people under the age of 20, and the chances of developing it increase with age.

Ewing tumor, also known as Ewing’s sarcoma, typically starts in the bones, but it may also form in other tissues and muscles. This is the third most common form of primary bone cancer. Ewing tumors occur most frequently in children and teenagers and is rarely seen in adults over the age of 30.

Fibrosarcoma and malignant fibrous histiocytoma typically develops in the soft tissue around the bones, such as tendons, ligaments, fat or muscle. These types of bone cancer also tend to occur in older adults, and usually affect the arms, legs or jaw.

Giant cell tumor of bone have benign and malignant forms, although the malignant form is less common. It usually occurs in the arm or leg bones of young and middle-aged adults, and rarely spreads to distant parts of the body. However, these cancers may return after surgical removal, and the chance of spreading to distant sites increases with each local recurrence.

Chordoma affects bones in the spine and the base of the skull. This type of bone cancer occurs most frequently in adults 30 or older, particularly men. It tends to be a slow-growing tumor with a low risk of spreading to distant sites, but it may return at the original site if not removed completely during surgery. Chordoma may also eventually spread to the lungs, liver or lymph nodes.

Metastatic bone cancer forms in the bone but spreads to other parts of the body. Bone cancer that spreads to other organs or tissues is still called bone cancer, even if it has spread to the lungs or lymph nodes.

Learn more about metastatic bone cancer

Next topic: What is metastatic bone cancer?

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