What is osteosarcoma?

Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer among children, adolescents, and young adults. It usually begins in the marrow cavity of the long bones, such as the arms and legs. It also can occur in the pelvis and spine, and in rare cases, in the jaw or other locations in the body.

While osteosarcoma occurs most commonly in teenagers (when the rate of bone growth is the fastest), it can affect young children and adults as well. There are about 600 new cases of osteosarcoma diagnosed each year in the United States.

Types of osteosarcoma

Some types of osteosarcoma can start just outside or at the surface of the bone, instead of in the marrow cavity. These include parosteal osteosarcoma, which originates in a layer of soft tissue next to the bone and tends to grow slowly; and periosteal osteosarcoma, which originates in the outer covering of the bone and is more aggressive.

Osteosarcoma cancer cells can metastasize (spread) to other areas of the body. If this happens, it most often spreads to the lungs. It also can spread to other bones, and much less commonly, to the kidneys, the adrenal gland, the brain, and the heart.

How we care for osteosarcoma

Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center provides comprehensive medical and surgical care for children and adolescents with bone tumors, such as osteosarcoma. Our multidisciplinary approach through our Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors Program ensures in-depth discussion of each case and personalized treatment plans for every patient. Continue reading to learn more about osteosarcoma or visit the Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors Program page to learn about our expertise and treatment options for this condition.

Our areas of research for osteosarcoma

Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s was one of the first centers in the United States to use adjuvant chemotherapy and perform limb-salvage surgery for patients with osteosarcoma.

Apart from our very active basic research program on osteosarcoma and phase I and phase II clinical trials at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s, we also have available all Children’s Oncology Group clinical trials for newly diagnosed, non-metastatic, and metastatic osteosarcoma.

For many children with rare or hard-to-treat conditions, clinical trials provide new options.