Benign & Malignant Bone Tumors

What Are Bone Tumors?

Bone tumors can affect a child of any age. They may develop in any bone of the body. Most will develop in areas of rapid bone growth. The ends of arms or leg bones exhibit rapid bone growth. The pelvis (hip bones) exhibits as well.

There are several types of bone tumors that affect children. Two broad categories include benign and malignant tumors. Benign tumors are much more common than malignant tumors and are easily treatable. They are made up of disordered cells that stay in one area of the bone. Malignant bone tumors are malignant because they are made up of cells that grow uncontrollably. These tumors can spread throughout the body. The malignant bone tumors that are most likely to be seen are osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, and Ewing sarcoma.

What Are the Symptoms of Bone Tumors?

Children will complain of pain that worsens at night or with activity. There may be swelling, fatigue, and weight loss. Parents should have their children examined if this pain comes and goes or worsens at night. Another concern is if the pain is not helped by over-the-counter medication.

What Causes Bone Tumors?

Many parents wonder what may have caused their child’s bone tumor. The reality is that the causes are not always clear. Some risk factors that may contribute to bone tumor development include genetic factors or prior exposure to radiation.

How Are Bone Tumors Diagnosed?

There are several imaging tests that your child’s doctor may want to employ. These tests will determine the exact size and location of the tumor, and if it has spread. These imaging tests may include bone scans, computerized tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs), positron emission tomography (PET) scans, or X-rays.

Your child’s doctor may recommend having a biopsy performed to get a tumor sample. The tumor sample can help determine what type of tumor cells are present and how fast they are growing.

How Are Bone Tumors Treated?

Treatment depends on the patient and the type of tumor that is present. It is important for parents to discuss the specifics of their child’s tumor and what treatment options are available. Various treatment approaches exist. A few include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of the three. It is best to ask your child’s doctor questions about the specifics so you and your child can make informed decisions.