The bones

Knowing what your bones do might help you understand what bone cancer is. Bones are like human scaffolding. They help keep us upright. The human skeleton has more than 200 bones of different shapes and sizes.

Diagram of the skeleton
Diagram of the skeleton

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Bones do several important things:

  • they work together with our joints so we can move around
  • they protect parts of our bodies from injury – for example, the ribs protect the heart and lungs
  • they store calcium
  • some bones contain bone marrow, which makes our blood cells.


Joints help bones fit together so we can move. There are different types of joint. Some work as levers, like the finger joint. Others, such as the hip joint, are ball-and-socket joints. There are different types of tissue that help bones move:

  • Ligaments are tough cords of tissue that attach bones to each other.
  • Cartilage is a slippery material that covers the ends of bones, to stop them rubbing together.
  • Muscles are made of tough, stretchy tissue that gives us our strength.
  • Tendons are strong cords of tissue that attach muscles to bones.

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