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.
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 and Soft Tissue Tumor Program page to learn about our expertise and treatment options for this condition.
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 common symptoms of chondroblastoma, which may resemble those of other medical problems, include:
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.
Surgery, aimed at removing the tumor and preventing damage to the end of the affected bone, is standard treatment for chondroblastoma. This may include:
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 tumor cells by heating them to high temperatures.
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Katherine Janeway, MD, talks about caring for children with solid tumors. She is always inspired by the resilience of children with cancer and their families.