Bone Cancer

Bone cancer is a malignant (cancerous) tumor that starts in the bones. This kind of tumor is known as musculoskeletal cancer when it develops in the soft tissue of the musculoskeletal system, which includes the bones as well as muscles, joints, and the tissues that connect these parts of the body together. Both malignant and benign (non-cancerous) tumors can develop in the musculoskeletal system, though benign tumors are much more common. Primary bone cancer, or cancer that begins within a bone, is rare. It is more common for a tumor to spread, or metastasize, from another area of the body to the musculoskeletal system. Other cancers such as lymphoma, leukemia, and multiple myeloma begin in the bone marrow but are in fact blood cell cancers.

Cancerous tumors are also known as sarcomas. Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone cancer. It usually affects patients under 30 but can occur at any age. Osteosarcoma can begin in any bone, though it is more commonly seen in the longer bones of the arms and legs, as well as the pelvic bones. Primary bone cancer often is treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Cancer that has spread from other locations in the body to the musculoskeletal system usually is treated with radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. There are many types of soft tissue sarcomas, but they are rare. They tend to occur in the arms, legs, chest, and abdomen but can develop in any area of the body. They are most common in patients age 30-70, though certain types of soft tissue sarcomas can affect children. Soft tissue sarcomas usually are treated with a combination of surgery and radiation, sometimes with the addition of chemotherapy.


The presence of a caring, experienced team of orthopaedic doctors makes all the difference for patients with cancer of the bones or soft tissue. Physicians at UAB Medicine Musculoskeletal Joint and Oncologic Surgery, part of UAB Orthopaedics, provide expert care using advanced technology for diagnosis, staging, and treatment. We work with our patients every step of the way to help them understand their diagnosis and treatment. We are actively involved in their medical decision-making and in ensuring that the best possible care is provided for their disease.

UAB Medicine is home to the only two fellowship-trained musculoskeletal cancer surgeons in the region. Because our medical center is the largest in the state, patients have access to recognized specialists in a wide range of disciplines. We are the only health care organization in the region to offer surgical treatment of extremity and pelvic tumors involving soft tissue and bone. UAB is also a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center. As a result, patients treated at UAB not only have access to a wide variety of oncology-related specialties, they also have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials and work with teams involved in the latest and most promising cancer research.

Board-certified physicians in the Musculoskeletal Joint and Oncology Surgery Clinic have years of training in orthopaedic surgery and musculoskeletal oncology, and they are leaders in their field. Our doctors are included on the “Best Doctors in America” and “Top Doctors for Cancer” lists, and they are active members of several orthopaedic societies, including the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society, Connective Tissue Oncology Society, the American Academy of Cancer Researchers, and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery.






UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.

View Clinical Trials