Health A-Z

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What Is It?

Chondrosarcoma is a type of cancer closely related to bone cancer. However, chondrosarcoma forms in cartilage, the tough but flexible tissue that pads the ends of bones and lines joints, not in the bone tissue itself.

This cancer usually develops in the cartilage that lines the bones of the pelvis, thigh, shoulder, ribs, or arm. However, one rare type of chondrosarcoma develops in the soft tissues, such as the muscles, nerves, or fat, of the arms and legs. The disease can also develop from an existing noncancerous (benign) tumor close to the bone. But in most cases, doctors don't know why it develops.

Once a chondrosarcoma has formed, it may grow rapidly or slowly. It can invade nearby tissues and spread (metastasize) to cartilage and bones elsewhere in the body. It can also spread to other tissues and organs, such as the lungs.

If cancer spreads (metastasizes) to the bones or cartilage from a cancer in another part of the body, such as the breast, it is not a chondrosarcoma. Rather, it is called metastatic breast cancer.

Chondrosarcoma can occur at any age, but it mainly affects adults over age 40. It rarely occurs in children.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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