What is the definition of Osteosarcoma?

Osteosarcoma is a very rare type of cancerous bone tumor that usually develops in teenagers. It often occurs when a teen is growing rapidly.

What are the alternative names for Osteosarcoma?

Osteogenic sarcoma; Bone tumor - osteosarcoma

What are the causes for Osteosarcoma?

Osteosarcoma is the most common bone cancer in children. Average age at diagnosis is 15. Boys and girls are just as likely to develop this tumor until the late teens, when it occurs more often in boys. Osteosarcoma is also common in people over age 60.

The cause is not known. In some cases, osteosarcoma runs in families. At least one gene has been linked to an increased risk. This gene is also associated with familial retinoblastoma. This is a cancer of the eye that occurs in children.

Osteosarcoma tends to occur in the bones of the:

  • Shin (near the knee)
  • Thigh (near the knee)
  • Upper arm (near the shoulder)

Osteosarcoma occurs most commonly in large bones in the area of bone with the fastest growth rate. However, it can occur in any bone.

What are the symptoms for Osteosarcoma?

The first symptom is usually bone pain near a joint. This symptom may be overlooked because of other more common causes of joint pain.

Other symptoms may include any of the following:

  • Bone fracture (may occur after a routine movement)
  • Limitation of motion
  • Limping (if the tumor is in the leg)
  • Pain when lifting (if the tumor is in the arm)
  • Tenderness, swelling, or redness at the site of the tumor

What are the current treatments for Osteosarcoma?

Treatment usually starts after a biopsy of the tumor is done.

Before surgery to remove the tumor, chemotherapy is usually given. This can shrink the tumor and make surgery easier. It may also kill any cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body.

Surgery is used after chemotherapy to remove any remaining tumor. In most cases, surgery can remove the tumor while saving the affected limb. This is called limb-sparing surgery. In rare cases, more involved surgery (amputation) is necessary.

What are the support groups for Osteosarcoma?

You can ease the stress of illness by joining a cancer support group. Sharing with others who have common experiences and problems can help you and your family not feel alone.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Osteosarcoma?

If the tumor has not spread to the lungs (pulmonary metastasis), long-term survival rates are better. If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, the outlook is worse. However, there is still a chance of cure with effective treatment.

What are the possible complications for Osteosarcoma?

Complications may include:

  • Limb removal
  • Spread of cancer to the lungs
  • Side effects of chemotherapy

When should I contact a medical professional for Osteosarcoma?

Call your provider if you or your child has persistent bone pain, tenderness, or swelling.

Osteogenic sarcoma - X-ray
Ewing sarcoma - X-ray
Bone tumor


Anderson ME, DuBois SG, Gebhardt MC. Sarcomas of bone. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 89.

National Cancer Institute website. Osteosarcoma and undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma of bone treatment (PDQ) - health professional version. www.cancer.gov/types/bone/hp/osteosarcoma-treatment-pdq. Updated January 29, 2021. Accessed March 18, 2021.

  • Condition: Adult Ewing Sarcoma
  • Journal: Medicina
  • Treatment Used: Multimodal Treatment
  • Number of Patients: 1
  • Published —
This case report describes a 41-year-old man diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma treated with a multimodal approach.
  • Condition: Patients with Osteoporosis with History of Radiation Therapy
  • Journal: Archives of osteoporosis
  • Treatment Used: Teriparatide
  • Number of Patients: 6
  • Published —
This study investigated the use of teriparatide for the treatment of patients with osteoporosis with a history of radiation therapy.