Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe

Bone tumours


A bone tumour is a mass of tissue as resulting from abnormal growth or cell division in the bone. There are two types of bone tumours, primary and secondary. Primary bone tumours develop first in the bone, while secondary bone tumours are tumours which develop elsewhere in the body and then spread to the bone. These kind of tumours are also called metastases.

Primary bone tumours may be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Bone cancer can develop in any bone in your body, but most commonly occurs in the long bones in your arms and legs. The most common types of bone cancer include osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma.


The most common symptoms are pain, reduced functioning in the affected area and an increased risk of fractures.


There are a number of methods your doctor may use to diagnose you, including radiograms (which use X-ray), MRI, CT and bone scintigraphy (a type of diagnostic test which uses radioisotopes which external detectors turn into 2D images). Your doctor may also use these techniques to evaluate the disease during follow-up.


The best method of treatment for bone tumours is a multidisciplinary approach, meaning doctors from different fields work together to decide on the course of treatment which is best suited to you. This can improve any functions that have been affected by the bone tumour, relieve any pain you are experiencing and, if the condition is life-threatening, prolong your survival.

The treatments that you will be offered first are radiotherapy, chemotherapy, bisphosphonates (drugs that prevent the loss of bone mass) and surgery.

In addition, there are a number of systemic and local therapies which can be used to cure or palliate bone tumours. Types of local therapies include interventional treatments such as embolisationablation techniques (radiofrequency ablation, cryoablation, microwave ablation, laser ablation and focused ultrasound), vertebroplasty and osteoplasty.