Overview

Chondrosarcoma is a rare type of cancer that usually begins in the bones, but can sometimes occur in the soft tissue near bones. Chondrosarcoma happens most often in the pelvis, hip and shoulder. More rarely, it can happen in the bones of the spine.

Most chondrosarcomas grow slowly and may not cause many signs and symptoms at first. Some rare types grow rapidly and have a high risk of spreading to other areas of the body, which can make these cancers difficult to treat.

Chondrosarcoma treatment usually involves surgery. Other options might include radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Symptoms

Chondrosarcoma tends to grow slowly, so it might not cause signs and symptoms at first. When they occur, signs and symptoms of chondrosarcoma may include:

  • Increasing pain
  • A growing lump or area of swelling
  • Weakness or bowel and bladder control problems, if the cancer presses on the spinal cord

Causes

It's not clear what causes chondrosarcoma. Doctors know that cancer begins when a cell develops changes (mutations) in its DNA. A cell's DNA contains the instructions that tell it what to do. The instructions tell the cell to multiply quickly and to continue living when healthy cells would die. The accumulating cells form a tumor that can grow to invade and destroy normal body tissue. In time, cells can break away and spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body.

Risk factors

Factors that can increase the risk of chondrosarcoma include:

  • Increasing age. Chondrosarcoma occurs most often in middle-aged and older adults, though it can occur at any age.
  • Other bone diseases. Ollier's disease and Maffucci's syndrome are conditions that cause noncancerous bone growths (enchondromas) in the body. These growths sometimes transform into chondrosarcoma.

Chondrosarcoma care at Mayo Clinic

July 17, 2021

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  2. Winn RH, ed. Chordomas and chondrosarcomas. In: Youmans and Winn Neurological Surgery. 7th ed. Elsevier; 2017. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 18, 2021.
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