The bones and types of bone cancer
Understanding more about what your bones do might help you understand what bone cancer is.
Bones are like human scaffolding - they help keep us upright.
protect our vital organs from injury, such as the brain, heart and lungs
contain bone marrow, which makes blood cells
work together with connective tissue so that we can move.
These are the main types of connective tissue that help bones move:
Joints, which help bones fit together so that we can move freely. There are different types of joint. Some work as levers, like the finger joint. Others are ball-and-socket joints, such as the hip joint.
Ligaments, which are tough cords of tissue that attach bones to each other.
Cartilage, which is a slippery material that covers the ends of bones to stop them rubbing together
Muscles, which are made of tough, stretchy tissue. Muscles give us our strength.
Tendons, which are strong cords of tissue that attach muscles to bones.
There are different types of bone cancer. The two most common kinds to affect teenagers are osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma.
Osteosarcomas (sometimes called osteogenic sarcomas) are most likely to affect bones in the leg, especially around the knee joint, but they can affect any bone.
The word sarcoma is name for a cancer that starts in connective tissue, such as bone, muscle, fat or cartilage.
Ewing sarcoma can affect any bone, but it’s most common in the pelvis (made up of the tail bone and the two hip bones), or in leg bones. Ewing sarcoma can also sometimes start outside the bone in the soft tissue. This is called soft tissue Ewing sarcoma, and is treated in the same way as Ewing sarcoma in the bone.
We don’t know what causes bone cancer. But because it’s more common in young people, doctors think that it might have something to do with the changes that happen when the bones are growing.
People often think a knock or injury might have caused bone cancer, but there’s no evidence for this.
Remember that nothing you’ve done has caused the cancer.
We also have more info about:
If you're looking for information about bone cancer in people of all ages, please see our general bone cancer section.