Treatment overview

The treatments used for primary bone cancer are surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Most people need a combination of different treatments.

Surgery is a very important part of treatment. It is used to remove the tumour in the bone.

Chemotherapy is given to some people with primary bone cancer. Nearly everyone with a Ewing’s sarcoma will have chemotherapy. It is also given to most people with osteosarcomas and spindle cell sarcomas. It’s often given before surgery (called neoadjuvant chemotherapy). Giving chemotherapy before surgery helps to shrink the tumour, making it easier to remove. It can also be used after surgery (called adjuvant chemotherapy), when it’s given to destroy any remaining cancer cells.

Radiotherapy is used to treat some types of bone tumour. It is usually given after surgery or chemotherapy. It may also be used where surgery isn’t possible. Radiotherapy is particularly effective in treating Ewing’s sarcoma. It’s less effective for osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma and spindle cell sarcoma, so it isn’t often used for these types of bone cancer. However, it can help in certain circumstances.

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Just been diagnosed?

Just been diagnosed with cancer? We're here for you every step of the way. There are many ways we can help.

Staging and grading

Knowing the grade and stage of the cancer affects the decisions you and your doctors make about your treatment.

Specialist treatment centres

Your treatment will usually be given at a specialist treatment centre. You may have to travel some distance to reach one.

The cancer registry

In the UK, each country has a cancer registry. It is used to plan and improve health and care services.