Types of primary bone cancer
Primary bone cancer is rare. About 600 people are diagnosed with it in the UK each year. It can occur at any age and is slightly more common in men than women.
There are several different types of primary bone cancer. If your cancer is not one of those described here, contact our cancer support specialists. They will be able to give you more information about it.
Osteosarcoma (also called osteogenic sarcoma)
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Osteosarcoma is the commonest type of primary bone cancer. It’s most common in teenagers, young adults and adults in their 60s, but people of any age can be affected.
It can occur in any bone, but is most likely to develop around the knee, in the thigh bone (femur), in the shin bone (tibia) or in the upper arm (humerus).
Ewing’s sarcoma is named after the surgeon who first described it. This type of bone cancer is also more common in teenagers and young adults, but can occur at any age. It’s more likely to occur in young children than osteosarcoma is.
Any bone can be affected, but the pelvis, thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia) are the most common sites. It’s also possible for Ewing’s sarcoma to start in the soft tissues of the body. This is called extraosseous Ewing’s sarcoma (‘extra’ means outside, ‘osseous’ means bone), or soft tissue Ewing’s sarcoma.
Chondrosarcoma is usually a slow-growing tumour and is most common in middle-aged people.
The cancer starts in cartilage cells, although it can also grow within a bone or on its surface. The most common places in the body for it to develop are the upper arm (humerus) or thigh bone (femur), but it can occur in other bones such as the ribs, pelvis or shoulder blade (scapula).
Spindle cell sarcoma is a rare type of bone cancer. It is similar to osteosarcoma, but tends to occur in adults over the age of 40. It’s extremely rare in people under 20.
There are four types of spindle cell sarcoma:
Malignant fibrous histiocytoma, which is most likely to affect a bone in the leg, especially around the knee joint or in the arm.
Fibrosarcoma, which is most likely to affect the thigh bone (femur).
Leiomyosarcoma, which usually occurs in the thigh bone (femur), shin bone (tibia) or upper arm bone (humerus).
Undifferentiated sarcoma of the bone, which may arise from any bone but usually affects the arm and leg (limb) bones or the pelvis.
The four types of spindle cell sarcoma are treated in a similar way to osteosarcoma.
Chordoma is an extremely rare cancer, which tends to be slow growing. It starts in the bones of the spine, either in the bottom of the spine (the sacrum) or in the neck. It can occur at any age, but is more common in people in their 40s and 50s.
Angiosarcoma can occur at any age, but it is very rare. Angiosarcomas can affect any bone. They can develop in more than one bone at the same time, or in more than one place in a single bone.