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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago


Chondrosarcoma is a form of bone cancer that typically occurs in the hip, pelvic, and shoulder regions of the body, located at the ends of bones, where the joints are. The tumor can occur inside the bone, or on the surface, and can grow rapidly or slowly.

Chondrosarcoma typically occurs in adults, and is almost never seen in younger patients and children. The tumor grows in the cartilage, and while it is uncertain what causes it to occur, there is some indication of repeated trauma to the affected region having a relationship to the development of chondrosarcoma.

Several conditions and diseases may increase the risk of getting chondrosarcoma, including:

  • Maffuci’s syndrome
  • Ollier’s disease
  • Bone growths (exostoses)

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms may resemble other medical conditions, but some of the more commonly experienced ones include:

  • Sharp or dull pain at site of tumor
  • Swelling or redness at site of tumor
  • Enlargement of preexisting bone exostoses


Your doctor may conduct a number of tests to diagnose chondrosarcoma, including:

  • Magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) scans
  • Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to detect the presence of organic compounds that may indicate a tumor
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to see if tumor cells have spread in the cerebrospinal fluid

Upon diagnosis, the tumor will be staged, which is how your doctor determines how far the tumor has spread, and how aggressive the tumor is. This will help your doctor determine the appropriate treatment for it.


Depending on the severity of the chondrosarcoma, treatment may be surgery or surgery combined with chemotherapy. Surgery will typically remove the tumor, and there may be bone grafts to restore the damaged bone. Chemotherapy is only used for chondrosarcoma in extremely aggressive cases.

While your surgeon will, if possible, use limb-sparing surgical techniques like bone grafts or use of metal prostheses to replace removed bone, in some cases of chondrosarcoma, it may be necessary to remove part or all of a limb.

Amputation is a simple procedure with minimal complications, and definitively removes the tumor. Modern prosthetic devices are designed to give patients the best possible post-surgical outcome. Rehabilitation and physical therapy after surgery will help you better manage use of your prosthesis.


Various factors determine the prognosis for chondrosarcoma, including:

  • Presence or absence of metastasis
  • Size and location of tumor
  • Extent of the disease
  • Tumor’s response to therapy
  • Age and health of the patient

Last UpdateJanuary 19, 2012