• Chondrosarcoma Overview

    Chondrosarcoma is a type of cancer that develops in the cartilage that coats the ends of bones and forms joints. Most of these tumors occur in cartilage found in the femur (the large bone in the leg), humerus (upper arm bone), shoulder, ribs and pelvis, and they can occur in the head and neck, as well. Tumors can develop inside the bone or on the surface of bone.

    Chondrosarcoma Treatment at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's

    Patients with chondrosarcoma are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorder Center through the Bone & Soft Tissue Tumor Program. Continue reading to learn more about chondrosarcoma or visit the Bone & Soft Tissue Tumor Program homepage to learn about our expertise.

    Symptoms & Diagnosis

    Chondrosarcomas can be rapidly invasive or slow-growing and cause fewer symptoms and seldom spread to other organs and tissues. Several factors, including Ollier’s disease (multiple benign tumors within bone) and a rare genetic disorder called Maffucci syndrome, may contribute to disease risk.

    Symptoms of chondrosarcoma include:

    • Pain (sharp or dull) at the tumor site
    • Swelling and/or redness at the tumor site
    • Enlargement of pre-existing exotoses (bone growths)
    • Increased pain with activity or lifting
    • Limp
    • Decreased movement of affect limb
    • Urinary obstruction (with pelvic tumors)

    A physician may order a number of different tests to diagnose chondrosarcoma. In addition to a medical history and physical exam, these may include:

    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • Computerized tomography (CT or CAT) scan
    • Magnetic resonance spectroscopy in conjunction with MRI to detect the presence of organic compounds produced by the body’s metabolism within a large tissue sample
    • Biopsy
      Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
    • After all tests are completed, doctors will be able to outline the best treatment options.

    Treatment & Care Options

    Surgery is usually sufficient to cure less-invasive, low-grade tumors. Rapidly-growing, high-grade tumors may require surgery along with chemotherapy. Surgery may include limb-sparing procedures or amputation if the tumor cannot be removed because important nerves and blood vessels are compromised.

    Progressive or Recurrent Disease

    Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are sometimes considered for patients with recurrent chondrosarcoma, but these treatments have not proven to be effective. Follow-up imaging scans are important to make sure the disease has not recurred or spread to other parts of the body, most often the lungs.

    Long-term Outlook

    After adequate surgical excision, the prognosis for low-grade chondrosarcomas is very good. Survival decreases and the risk of recurrence increases as the tumor grade goes up.