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Bone Tumour

What is a Bone Tumour?

A tumour is a lump or mass of tissue that is formed when cells divide uncontrollably. A tumour replaces healthy tissue with abnormal tissue and can weaken the bone causing it to break or fracture.

Tumour growth or behaviour will vary according to the type of tumour and depending on whether the tumour is non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). Most bone tumours are benign. They tend to grow slowly and don’t usually tend to reoccur once removed by surgery. Benign tumours tend to stay non-cancerous except in rare cases.  

The most common benign types of tumour include:

  • Non-ossifying fibroma unicameral (simple) bone cyst
  • Osteochondroma
  • Giant cell tumour
  • Enchondroma
  • Fibrous dysplasia


Malignant tumours are cancerous and vary in size and shape. They grow in uncontrolled and abnormal ways, interfere with bodily functions and can be life-threatening if not treated. A malignant tumour which begins in the bone (primary bone cancer) is different from a tumour that begins somewhere else in the body and spreads to the bone (secondary bone cancer).

The three most common types of primary bone cancer occurring are:

  • Multiple Myeloma: Multiple myeloma is the most common primary bone cancer. It is a malignant tumour of bone marrow
  • Osteosarcoma: Osteosarcoma is the second most common bone cancer and is commonly found in teenagers
  • Chondrosarcoma: Chondrosarcoma occurs most commonly in middle-aged to elderly patients

What does a Bone Tumour feel like?

Most patients with a bone tumour will experience pain in the area where the tumour occurs. The pain is generally described as dull and achy and may get worse with activity but this is not always the case. The pain often keeps the patient awake at night.  

Tumours are not caused by trauma, however, in some cases, an injury can cause the tumour to start hurting. Injury can also cause a bone that is already weakened by a tumour to break or fracture. In some cases, patients will not experience any symptoms of pain but instead notice a mass or lump. Depending on the type of tumour they can be treated either surgically or non-surgically. 

What causes Bone Tumour?

While the exact source unknown, their spontaneous nature implies they are unrelated to trauma, environmental factors, diet or genetics. In some cases, however, they may be related to hyperparathyroidism, a state where the parathyroid glands become overly active and produce an abnormal amount of hormones. Isolated, single instances of these bone tumours do not usually occur in this manner though. 

What are the non-surgical options for Bone Tumour?

Treatment of giant cell tumours is necessary to prevent the tumour from growing, destroying bone tissue and recurring in the future. The aim of treatment is threefold: remove the tumour, protect the integrity of the bone and mitigate the chances of reappearance. Surgery is usually the most effective course of action for treating giant cell tumours. But if the size, shape, or position of a tumour makes it impossible to remove through surgery, your physician might propose an alternative solution such as nonsurgical treatment. 

Radiation: For giant cell tumours situated in areas that could be adversely affected during surgery, radiation therapy is sometimes an option. However, it comes with a risk of creating new cancer cells in some cases, so its application must be thoroughly considered beforehand. 

Tumour embolisation: Doctors block the blood flow to the malignant cells. With no oxygen or nourishment reaching them, these cancerous tissues start to deteriorate. Usually, this method is employed prior to surgery, but there are instances when it is utilised as a standalone treatment if surgery isn’t possible. 

Medication: Recently, the FDA in the US approved a new injection-based medication to help treat tumours. It works by focusing on a special receptor within the tumour cells, inhibiting activity to delay bone damage. Regrettably, since the tumour cells remain nestled in between the giant cells, their growth resumes upon completion of the treatment. Still, this form of treatment can sometimes be used for individuals with recurrent tumours or those who cannot be operated on surgically. 

What are the surgical options for Bone Tumour?

Surgery is widely acknowledged to be the most effective method for managing tumours. Potential treatments may include a range of surgical techniques, such as excision or curettage. To learn more about Tumour Surgery, as well as what you can expect prior to, during, and after surgery, please visit our Tumour Surgery page.

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For further inquiries or to arrange a consultation, please contact Professor Al Muderis’ office at +61 2 88829011 or book an appointment online.