Bone tumors develop when cells within a bone divide uncontrollably, forming a lump or mass of abnormal tissue.
Most bone tumors are benign (not cancerous). Benign tumors are usually not life-threatening and, in most cases, will not spread to other parts of the body. Depending upon the type of tumor, treatment options are wide-ranging—from simple observation to surgery to remove the tumor.
Some bone tumors are malignant (cancerous). Malignant bone tumors can metastasize—or cause cancer cells to spread throughout the body. In almost all cases, treatment for malignant tumors involves a combination of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
Bone tumors can affect any bone in the body and develop in any part of the bone—from the surface to the center of the bone, called the bone marrow. A growing bone tumor—even a benign tumor—destroys healthy tissue and weakens bone, making it more vulnerable to fracture.
Patients with a bone tumor will often experience pain in the area of the tumor. This pain is generally described as dull and aching. It may worsen at night and increase with activity.
Other symptoms of a bone tumor can include fever and night sweats.
For most bone tumors the cause is unknown.
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