• Chondroblastoma Overview

    Chondroblasts are specialized, cartilage-producing cells, which can sometimes grow out of control and cause a benign non-cancerous tumor called a chondroblastoma. These tumors are usually found at the ends of long bones of the arms or legs, but can also develop in the pelvis and hip socket. Although they are considered benign, these slow-growing tumors can weaken bones and cause a lot of pain. In rare cases, they have the potential to spread to the lung.

    Chondroblastoma Treatment in Dana-Farber/Boston Children's

    Children with chondroblastoma are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center  through our Bone & Soft Tissue Program. Continue reading to learn more about chondroblastoma or visit the Bone & Soft Tissue Program homepage to learn about our expertise and treatment options for this condition.

    Symptoms & Diagnosis

    The majority of children who develop chondroblastoma are older teenagers whose growth plates are starting to close. Younger teens need extra care during treatment so their growth plates are not disturbed when the tumor is removed.

    The most symptoms of chondroblastoma, which may resemble those of other medical problems, include:

    • Ongoing pain, usually severe, in the affected area
    • Swelling
    • Joint stiffness
    • Decreased range of motion
    • Limping

    Chondroblastomas are difficult to diagnose. Doctors often have to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms before they can make a diagnosis. In addition to a complete physical examination and a neurological exam to test reflexes and muscle strength, doctors diagnose chondroblastoma with:

    After all tests are completed, doctors will be able to outline the best treatment options.

    Treatment & Care Options

    Neurosurgery, aimed at removing the tumor and preventing damage to the end of the affected bone, is standard treatment for chondroblastoma. This may include:

    • Curettage and bone grafting – scraping out the tumor with a scooped tool and filling the remaining cavity with bone chips taken from another bone in the child’s body or with donor bone tissue
    • Extended curettage – use of a special instrument to remove additional layers of cells around the tumor to reduce the risk of recurrence
    • En bloc resection – if located in the pelvis or certain other locations, surgical removal of the bone with pins inserted to restore structural integrity

    An alternative to surgery, called percutaneous radiofrequency ablation, is used if the tumor is in a hard-to-reach location. Radiofrequency waves passed through a probe kill tumors cells by heating them to high temperatures. 

    Progressive or Recurrent Disease

    Chondroblastoma recurs in about 20 percent of cases. It is usually treated using the same techniques as the original tumor, although orthopedic surgeons may opt for more aggressive treatment to prevent further recurrence.

    Long-term Outlook

    Most children with chondroblastoma are cured after their first surgery and are able to walk and run normally and participate in sports and physical activities. The outlook worsens for children whose disease has spread.