Chondrosarcoma in teenagers and young adults | Sarcoma UK
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In teenagers and young adults

Chondrosarcoma is a type of bone sarcoma that mostly occurs in adults.

It is very rare in children and young people, with cases making up about 10% of all chondrosarcomas.

Chondrosarcoma mostly affects the upper arm, thigh bone (femur), shoulder blades, ribs and pelvis.

This information is specific to chondrosarcoma that occurs in teenagers and young adults. 

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of chondrosarcoma can vary depending on the size and location of your tumour.

  • Bone pain, particularly occurring at night
  • A mass or swelling
  • Restricted movement in a joint

Symptoms can sometimes be confused with more common problems such as a sports injury or growing pains.


Your GP will examine you and may arrange tests or X-rays. If your GP suspects that you may have chondrosarcoma, they should refer you to a specialist centre or hospital for further tests.

You will have a physical examination at the specialist centre or hospital. You may also be given a blood test to check their general health.

The doctor may conduct an X-ray of the bone that is in pain, which is often used to diagnose a bone tumour.

You may also have a number of tests, including a chest X-ray, a biopsy, an MRI or a CT scan. You can read more about scans and tests here.



Surgery is the main form of treatment for chondrosarcoma.

During surgery, the surgeon will remove the tumour and will aim to take out an area of normal tissue around it too. This is known as taking a margin. To achieve this margin of normal tissue, you may receive limb-sparing surgery. The aim of this surgery is to preserve the limb where the tumour is rather than amputating it.

Limb-sparing surgery involves taking out the affected bone and replacing it with a bone graft (bone taken from another part of the body). Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to use limb-sparing surgery. Sometimes the cancer may spread from the bone to the nerves and blood vessels around it. If this happens the only way to treat the cancer may be to remove part of the limb known as a partial amputation. You may need to have all of your limb removed. This is called a full amputation.


Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. It is sometimes used:

  • before surgery to reduce the size of the tumour so it can be operated on and removed (neo-adjuvant chemotherapy)
  • after surgery to kill off any local cancer cells which remain in the area of the tumour (adjuvant chemotherapy)


Radiotherapy uses high-energy radiation beams to destroy cancer cells. Chondrosarcoma is not usually sensitive to radiotherapy; however, this type of treatment may be used after surgery in some cases, if there is a risk that the cancer has spread to the surrounding soft tissue.

Side effects

You may experience side effects of their treatment. A doctor will discuss any potential side effects before you start your treatment. You can read more about side effects here.

After treatment

Many young people with chondrosarcoma are cured, although you may need to have surgery to lengthen your limb as you grow. You will have regular check-ups and X-rays as needed at an orthopaedic specialist centre.


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