A malignant tumor is any type of cancerous growth that develops in a part of the body. When these types of tumors form in a hard structure of the musculoskeletal system, like bone or cartilage, they are called malignant bone tumors.

There are a variety of bone tumors that are malignant, such as chondrosarcoma and osteosarcoma. Although they both are cancerous tumors, each of them has a different effect on the body. For example, chondrosarcoma causes the body to overproduce cartilage-like tissue, whereas osteosarcoma is different and causes the body to produce bone tissue that is not as strong as normal bone tissue.

Orthopedic oncologists are physicians who diagnose and offer treatment options to patients with malignant bone tumors. During the diagnostic process, if the orthopedic oncologist believes a patient may have a bone tumor, he or she may order an imaging test such as an X-ray. Malignant bone tumors may be treated using a variety of approaches, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy with high-dose X-rays, or a surgical procedure.

If a surgical procedure is recommended, a surgical oncologist, or a doctor specializing in cancer surgery related to the bones and musculoskeletal system, may help. This orthopedic expert will always carefully analyze the tumor and all factors related to it, and employ limb-sparing techniques whenever possible. The survival rate of malignant bone cancer depends on many factors. However, with the right diagnosis, many malignant bone tumors can be successfully treated.

At University Orthopedic Surgeons, our orthopedic oncologist, Dr. Anna Wallace, is dual-fellowship-trained in orthopedic trauma and orthopedic oncology, making her more than qualified to assess, diagnose, and treat this type of cancer.

Build Your Knowledge of Malignant Bone Tumors and Oncology

If you have recently been diagnosed with a malignant bone tumor, it can be helpful to build your knowledge about how they are treated. Here are some terms that can help you better understand malignant bone tumors, bone cancer, and related issues:

  • Benign bone tumor: Bone tumors that are noncancerous.
  • Bone cyst: A noncancerous type of fluid-filled bone tumor that is more common in children. A single bone cyst may also be referred to as a nonossifying fibroma unicameral.
  • Enchondroma: A type of cartilage tumor that is benign. Enchondromas can sometimes transform into chondrosarcomas.
  • Ewing's sarcoma: A malignant tumor that can grow in the bones or soft tissue surrounding the bones.
  • 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 on the rounded end of the bones. Usually, this happens near the knee, either on the distal femur (area of the leg directly above the knee joint) or the proximal tibia (shinbone).
  • High-grade: Under a microscope, high-grade cancer cells look abnormal. In contrast, low-grade cells appear more normal. High-grade cells usually grow faster than low-grade.
  • Multiple myeloma: A bone tumor that grows in the bone marrow.
  • Oncology: The field of medicine focused on diagnosing cancer as well as cancer treatment.
  • Oncologist: An oncologist is a doctor who diagnoses and treats cancer patients.
  • Orthopedic oncologist: Doctors who diagnose and treat patients with bone disease and sarcoma.
  • Orthopedic oncology: Refers to the field of medicine focused on helping patients who have a sarcoma that has developed somewhere in the bones and cartilage or soft tissues, such as the muscles.
  • Osteoblastoma: A noncancerous bone tumor that often develops in the spine.
  • Osteochondroma: This is a type of noncancerous tumor that often affects the long bones in the legs.
  • Primary bone cancer: When a bone cancer develops in the bone first, like osteosarcoma, it is called a primary bone cancer. When cancerous cells move to the bones from a different location, it is not a primary bone cancer. Instead, it is a metastatic bone disease or bone metastases.
  • Soft-tissue sarcoma: These are malignant soft-tissue tumors, meaning they develop in a soft tissue of the body, such as a muscle or blood vessel. There are also soft-tissue tumors that are not cancerous. These are referred to simply as soft-tissue tumors or benign soft-tissue tumors. 
  • Sarcoma: An overall term for bone cancer or soft-tissue tumors that are malignant.
  • Surgical oncology: This is a field of medicine focused on the surgical treatment of bone cancer. Surgical oncologists are the surgeons who work within the field of surgical oncology.

The National Cancer Institute offers additional information on orthopedic oncology conditions, such as osteosarcoma and other malignant bone tumors. They also offer resources that can help you cope with cancer.

Exceptional Care at University Orthopedic Surgeons

Our years of experience and advanced training devoted to the care of orthopedic issues make us who we are, but our compassionate care of our patients is what makes us dedicated to you. Our orthopedic oncologist and her team at University Orthopedic Surgeons are here to improve the health and well-being of our community, treating patients dealing with the full range of bone diseases and conditions. They are also committed to staying up to date on new treatment advances so they can offer the very best to patients.

Dr. Anna Wallace and her orthopedic oncology team are fully equipped to treat the complete range of malignant tumors affecting the bones and soft tissues. They are 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 any cancer 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.