Bone Cancer Primary

Primary bone cancer is a malignant tumor that develops in the bone, as distinguished from secondary bone cancer, which is cancer that has spread to the bone from another location. Primary bone cancers are rare.

Get All the Information

If you are diagnosed with a cancerous bone tumor, the first step you can take is to get as much information from your healthcare provider as possible. Write down the information or have your doctor write it down for you. Obtain certain medical records, such as imaging studies. You may also wish to bring a friend or family member to your appointment.

The Mayo Clinic recommends asking your doctor the following questions, along with any other questions you think of:

  • Do I need more tests?
  • Do you recommend seeing a specialist? If I want a second opinion, can you recommend a specialist?
  • What type of bone cancer do I have? The three most common types of primary bone cancer are chondrosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma and osteosarcoma, although other types of malignant bone tumors can develop.
  • What stage is my bone cancer? Stage refers to how advanced a cancer is. Stage I is least advanced while stage IV means the cancer has already spread to other parts of your body.
  • What grade is my bone cancer? Low-grade cancer is not aggressive and less likely to spread, while high-grade cancer may easily spread.
  • What are my treatment options? What are the side effects and risks of each treatment? Do you recommend a specific treatment?
  • Where do you recommend I get more information? Two sources for information are The National Cancer Institute at 800-4-CANCER (800-422-6237) or the American Cancer Society at 800-ACS-2345 (800-227-2345).

If you have other medical conditions, be sure to ask how cancer treatments will affect them, or if they will affect how you can be treated for cancer.

You may wish to ask your doctor about a bone cancer prognosis, but if you do, remember that a prognosis is nothing more than a guess made by a healthcare provider based on statistics. A bone cancer prognosis is determined by how other people have fared, rather than on your individual case.

Choosing Treatment

Possible treatments for primary bone cancer depend on the type of cancer you have, how advanced the cancer is, your overall health, what you want and where you receive treatment. Surgery to remove the tumor is the most common treatment for primary bone cancer. Surgery may or may not be combined with chemotherapy or radiation.

Sometimes an alternative to traditional surgery is cryosurgery, which uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill cancer cells. Another treatment option may be immunotherapy, which is a drug therapy designed to help your body defend itself against the cancer cells.

As you think about choosing a treatment, remember that many bone cancers are treatable and that different doctors/medical facilities may offer you different options. Getting a second or even third opinion is always a good idea.


American Cancer Society. (2010). Bone cancer. Retrieved September 23, 2010, from

Cancer Treatment Centers of America. (2009). Bone cancer treatments – conventional treatments. Retrieved September 23, 2010, from

Mayo Clinic. (2009). Bone cancer. Retrieved September 23, 2010, from