Orthopaedic and rheumatologic cancers are cancers of the bones and joints. Bone cancer typically occurs as a metastatic cancer (cancer that has spread to the bones from someplace else in the body).

Cancers that develop this way will resemble and behave like the tissue they came from—so, bone cancer that develops from lung cancer will look like and behave like lung cancer cells, even though they are in the bones. This means that treatments used to treat lung cancer would be used for a patient who had bone cancer that developed from lung cancer.

Other forms of bone cancer can develop in the cells of the bone marrow that are responsible for blood formation. This can be cancers such as:

Cancer Care Centers

Battling cancer is a multistep journey that may require many visits. During treatment, you need to devote your energy to getting healthy, not getting to the next appointment. That’s why treatment and support services at Northwestern Medicine are conveniently located throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, so you can get quick access to all the expertise and support you need, close to home.

Primary Bone Cancers

True bone cancers are called sarcomas. These are primary bone cancers that develop in the bone itself. Different types of bone tumors can be:

  • Osteosarcoma: The most common primary bone cancer
  • Chondrosarcoma: Cancer of the cartilage cell, the second most common form of primary bone cancer
  • Ewing tumor (or Ewing sarcoma): Third most common adult primary bone cancer, and second most common form in children and young adults
  • Malignant fibrous histiocytoma: Most often developing in the joints, ligaments, tendons, fat, and muscle
  • Fibrosarcoma: Most often developing in the soft tissues, and affecting the leg, arm, and jaw bones of patients
  • Chordoma: Slow-growing, primary bone tumor occurring at the skull base and bones of the spine, most often occurring in men over the age of 30 years
  • Giant cell bone tumor: Most commonly benign, but sometimes malignant, giant cell bone tumors usually affect the leg or arm bones of patients