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Pronounced: KAHN-dro-sar-KO-ma

En Español (Spanish Version)


Chondrosarcoma is a type of cancer that grows in cartilage cells in the body. Cartilage is the connective tissue from which most bones are created and is found in many areas of the body.

Chondrosarcoma is a malignant tumor that is typically found in the cartilage cells of the femur, arm, pelvis, knee, and spine. Rarely, the ribs and other areas may also be affected.

The condition is uncommon—the second most common type of bone cancer that starts in bones rather than other organs (also called primary bone cancer). Chondrosarcoma most often strikes between the ages of 50-70, and rarely strikes individuals younger than 20. Males and females are at equal risk of developing chondrosarcoma.

As with all cancers, the prognosis or outcome depends upon how large the tumor is and whether it has spread to distant structures.



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The cause of chondrosarcoma is unknown. It is thought that certain individuals may develop the cancer due to a chromosomal or genetic factor.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Chondrosarcomas often occur in healthy cartilage cells found in healthy individuals. However, there are certain factors that seem to be common among individuals who develop chondrosarcoma. The following factors may increase your chance of developing this condition:

  • Enchondroma—a benign bone tumor often found in the hands
  • Osteochondroma—excess cartilage or bone found at the end of a growth plate
  • Multiple osteochondromas (bone tumors)
  • Ollier's disease, which causes a group of enchondromas
  • Maffucci's syndrome, which causes a combination of multiple endochondromas and various tumors


Symptoms of chondrosarcoma vary based on the location and severity of the tumor and will vary from person to person. The most common symptoms of chondrosarcoma include:

  • Large lump or mass on a bone
  • Pressure surrounding the mass
  • Pain that worsens at night
  • Pain that responds to anti-inflammatory pain relievers
  • Pain that does not improve with rest
  • Pain that gradually worsens over time and may last for years


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.

Tests may include the following:

  • Biopsy—removal of a sample of tissue to check for a tumor (to diagnose a malignancy)
  • X-ray—a test that uses radiation to take images of tissues, bones, and cartilage
  • CT scan—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of internal organs, bones, and cartilage
  • MRI scan—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of internal organs, bones, and cartilage
  • PET scan—a test to evaluate the metabolic activity of tissues.
  • Blood tests—to determine abnormalities in the blood


Because treatment can vary based on your age, overall health, and stage of the disease, you should talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:


Surgery may be used to remove the tumor.

Radiation Therapy

High energy x-rays are used to target and kill cancer cells.


Drugs that kill tumor cells may be used. Chemotherapy is considered investigational in the management of chondrosarcomas.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy may be used to help the affected area heal following surgery.


Because the cause of chondrosarcoma is not fully understood, there are no known preventive measures that can help reduce the risk of developing the condition.


Children's Hospital Boston

The Mayo Clinic


BC Cancer Agency

British Columbia Ministry of Health


Bone disorders: chondrosarcoma. The University of Virginia Health Systems website. Available at: Accessed June 26, 2007.

Chow WA. Update on chondrosarcomas. Curr. Opin. Oncol. 2007;19:371-376.

DeGroot H. Chondrosarcoma. website. Available at: Accessed June 26, 2007.

DynaMed website. Available at:

Hunt KJ, Randall RL. Chondrosarcoma of bone. The Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative website. Available at: Accessed June 26, 2007.

Lewis VO. What’s new in musculoskeletal oncology. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2007;89:1399-1407.

Last reviewed April 2008 by Rimas Lukas, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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