Enchondromas are benign (noncancerous) bone tumors that develop in cartilage. They can usually be found in the cartilage that lines the inside of the bones—often in the tiny long bones in the hands. But they can be found in other places, too, like the upper arm bone (humerus), thighbone (femur) and the portion called the distal femur, or one of the two types of lower leg bones, which are called the tibia and the fibula.

If they only affect one bone, they are called solitary enchondromas. If multiple enchondromas develop, it could be Ollier disease or Maffucci syndrome. Enchondromas can sometimes transform into chondrosarcomas, which are cancerous.

Since enchondroma is not bone cancer (sarcoma), people who have it do not need radiation therapy or chemotherapy as treatment. However, if the bones are showing signs of weakness because the enchondroma has damaged them, a doctor may recommend a surgical procedure.

Bone grafting is one option. This is when healthy bone tissue is removed from one part of the body and moved to the area with the enchondroma. A procedure called curettage, where the tumor is scraped out of the bone, may be used instead.

Enchondromas are part of a larger category of tumors called cartilaginous tumors, which means they develop in cartilage. Cartilaginous tumors can be benign or malignant (cancerous).

Whether they are cancerous or benign, a patient with enchondroma may be treated by a specialist working within the medical field called orthopedic oncology. "Oncology" is the medical term used to describe the study and treatment of tumors. Doctors who specialize in this area are called oncologists, and if they subspecialize in tumors related to the bones, they are called orthopedic oncologists.

At University Orthopedic Surgeons, our dual-fellowship-trained oncologist, Dr. Anna Wallace, is uniquely qualified and skilled to diagnose and treat enchondroma. When treating her patients, Dr. Wallace strives to completely remove the growth while leaving as much of the surrounding healthy tissue as intact as possible.

Build Your Knowledge of Enchondroma and Oncology

If you or someone you know has been recently diagnosed with enchondroma by an oncologist, it can be helpful to learn more about tumors, lesions, and sarcomas. Here are some terms to know:

  • Benign: A general term meaning "noncancerous."
  • Bone cyst: A noncancerous type of fluid-filled growth that is more common in children.
  • Bone lesions: The term "bone lesions" describes any type of change or damage to a bone. It might be caused by an infection, a fracture, or a tumor. Bone lesions are usually not cancerous. 
  • Cartilage lesions: Any type of change or damage to the cartilage. These lesions can be caused by injury, arthritis, or for other reasons.
  • Chondrosarcoma: Chondrosarcoma is a type of cartilage tumor that is malignant (cancerous). Low-grade chondrosarcoma can be difficult to distinguish from enchondroma. Therefore, a doctor may do testing to make sure a tumor is not low-grade chondrosarcoma.
  • Fibrous dysplasia: A condition where fibrous tissue begins to grow and replace normal bone and marrow, which weakens the bone.
  • Giant cell tumors: Giant cell tumors are bone tumors that grow rapidly in the rounded end of the bones, usually near the knee.
  • Lytic lesion: A lytic lesion is a spot of damage on a bone caused by cancerous plasma cells building up in bone marrow.
  • Malignant bone tumor: A cancerous tumor that occurs in hard structures, such as bone or cartilage, versus soft tissues, such as muscle or blood vessels.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): In order to diagnose a tumor, a doctor may want to see an MRI. This is an imaging test that will give the doctor more information than they can get from an X-ray alone. X-rays are radiographic images.
  • Osteosarcoma: The most common type of primary bone cancer. "Primary cancer" is a term used to describe the place where the cancer first developed. 
  • Pathologic fracture: A fracture (broken bone) caused by a disease that caused the bone to become weak. For example, a bone lesion can lead to a pathologic fracture.
  • Soft-tissue mass: These are tumors that develop in the soft tissues of the body, such as muscles or blood vessels. Some are soft-tissue sarcomas, which means they are malignant tumors. Others are benign tumors.
  • Sarcoma: An overall term for bone cancer or soft-tissue tumors that are malignant.

Exceptional Care at University Orthopedic Surgeons

Our years of experience and advanced training devoted to the treatment of orthopedic issues make us who we are, but our compassionate care of our patients is what makes us dedicated to you.

Our orthopedic oncology specialist at University Orthopedic Surgeons is here to improve the health and well-being of our community, treating patients dealing with the full range of bone diseases and conditions. She is also committed to staying up to date on new treatment advances so she can offer the very best to patients.

Dr. Anna Wallace and her orthopedic oncology team are fully equipped to treat the complete range of sarcomas as well as noncancerous soft-tissue tumors, cartilage tumors like enchondromas, and bone tumors. She is supported by our entire team of highly experienced nurses and other clinical staff and backed by our state-of-the-art orthopedic facility.

Since we understand coping with enchondroma and navigating your appointments and care can be challenging, we remain committed to providing you with the orthopedic oncology care you need to excel.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with our orthopedic oncology specialist, call our UT Medical Center office at (865) 546-2663 or request an appointment online.