Noncancerous Bone Tumours

Noncancerous growths that may cause pain and deformity in a bone

  • Most common in childhood or adolescence; rare over the age of 40
  • Gender, genetics, and lifestyle are not significant factors

Noncancerous bone tumours may occur in any part of a bone. These tumours develop most commonly in the long bones of the limbs, such as the femur (thighbone). The bones of the hands are another common site. Noncancerous bone tumours most often develop during childhood or adolescence. They are rare in people over the age of 40.

Although the presence of a tumour normally causes no symptoms, sometimes there may be pain in the affected area, or the bone may become enlarged and deformed. Affected bone is more likely to fracture from even a minor injury. Occasionally, a tumour may press on nerves, causing a tingling sensation or numbness. In some cases, movement may be restricted, or pain may be felt on movement if the tumour presses on nearby tendons (fibrous bands that connect muscles to bones).

A bone tumour is usually diagnosed from X-rays, MRI, or radionuclide scanning. To confirm that the tumour is noncancerous, your doctor may arrange for a biopsy of the bone, in which a small piece of the affected bone is removed for analysis.

A tumour may be removed surgically if it is painful, causes deformity of the bone, or grows rapidly. You may subsequently need a bone graft, in which artificial bone or bone taken from elsewhere in your body or from a donor is used. Generally, surgery is successful in removing noncancerous tumours, although occasionally these recur and may require further surgery.

Noncancerous bone tumours

This X-ray shows several noncancerous tumours in the bones of the fingers. Some bones have become enlarged as a result of the tumours, and one has a fracture.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

Back to top