Bone Cancer


Bone tumors account for approximately 6% of malignancies in the pediatric population. The most common forms of bone tumors that arise in the bone are osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma. Osteosarcoma arises from bone cells and is more common in older teenagers, whereas Ewing sarcoma arises from neural crest cells and tends to occur in younger children. Ewing sarcoma belongs to a larger family known as the Ewing Sarcoma Family of Tumors (ESFT) that can arise in other tissues of the body as well as in the bone.

What Causes Bone Cancer in Children?

In almost all cases, the cause of these bone tumors is not known. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital are conducting research to better understand why children and adolescents get bone cancer. The researchers seek to find out what the main contributing factors are to bone cancer in children. Among those factors, researchers hope to discover what might cause these tumors to be initiated. They also hope to find out if there are factors that cause the tumors to progress. Our researchers believe that better treatments can be created if they are able to pinpoint what causes bone cancers to develop in children.

How is Bone Cancer Treated?

Bone cancer is treated by a combination of chemotherapy and surgery. Radiation therapy may also be recommended. Treatment for bone cancer requires an integrated team of caregivers so that patients have the best chance of recovery. Specialists like a pediatric oncologist (a doctor who treats bone cancer), radiation oncologists (doctors who specialize in radiation treatment of bone cancer), and an orthopedic surgeon (a surgeon who specializes in bone surgery) work closely together at Texas Children's to give your child the best chance of recovery. The most common malignant bone tumors in children and adolescents are osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma. Patients with these tumors require multidisciplinary care from a team of providers that includes pediatric oncology, orthopedic oncologic surgery, physical therapy, pathologists and radiologists with expertise in bone diseases, specialized nursing care, as well as pediatric social workers and child life specialists. The Bone Tumor Program provides all of these services to our patients.

Is Bone Cancer in Children Curable?

Osteosarcoma and Ewing Sarcoma can be curable but the prognosis for each patient is different. If your child has been diagnosed with bone cancer, your oncologist will be able to explain what the expected outcome of treatment will be.

Treatment of Bone Cancer at Texas Children's Hospital

At Texas Children's Cancer Center, we understand that parents face a tremendous amount of stress when their child is diagnosed with cancer. Treatment for bone cancer often means that the family is jarred into seemingly endless doctor appointments, medications, and sometimes even surgeries or hospital stays.

In collaboration with the Departments of Surgery (specifically, Orthopedic Oncology), Orthopedic Medicine and Pathology, our team has developed routines that make the transition into cancer treatment a smoother and easier experience than it might otherwise be at another cancer treatment center.

A parent should never feel 'lost in the dark' when it comes to battling against a life-threatening illness of a child, and our staff at Texas Children's Cancer Center will be there every step of the way, to explain the treatment plan.

Our staff has developed an intake process that integrates the care of physicians from multiple departments from throughout Texas Children's Hospital.

First, a referral is obtained from the physician who discovered the child's tumor. Physicians may make a referral by using our online referral form. Families may call us at 1-800-CANCER9 to inquire about setting up an appointment or treatment options that we offer. Our physicians evaluate the patients medical records before the first appointment is scheduled, which is why a physician's referral is required.

Once a patient with a suspected bone tumor is referred to our clinic, our physicians work quickly to make sure that the tumor is diagnosed as rapidly as possible. Patients with bone lesions, whether suspected or known to be malignant, are initially seen in our Musculoskeletal Tumor Clinic, on the 14th floor of the Wallace Tower at Texas Children's Hospital.

A pediatric oncologist and orthopedic surgeon will have already evaluated the patients medical records prior to the appointment, which means that treatment options, follow-up care, and/or further testing can be discussed during your families first introduction to our clinic. At Texas Children's Cancer Center, we understand that it is hard for parents to take time off work and kids to miss school to visit the doctors office, so we seeks to reduce the amount of time that is spent at the hospital. To this end, our clinic has a hematology-oncology blood lab that is just steps away from the waiting area, which allows us to take a blood sample and test the specimen while your child plays in the waiting area. Within 20 minutes, the blood test results are available for the oncologist to review so that we can explain the results during your visit to our clinic.

If the oncologist determines that the bone tumor is benign (non-cancerous), the case will be referred to the Orthopedic Service at Texas Children's Hospital to receive follow-up care.

If the oncologist determines that the bone tumor is malignant (cancerous), the patient will continue to be seen at our clinic by the clinical care team for the Bone Tumor Program at Texas Children’s Cancer Center. Throughout the treatment of the tumor, our physician's will work closely with a team a sub-specialists that are experts in the care of children and adolescents with bone tumors. At Texas Children's Cancer Center, we hope to provide the smoothest experience attainable for the often complex steps that are necessary to ensure the best possible treatment outcomes for every patient who is diagnosed with a bone tumor.

Photo: Patient bone scans provide critical insights that doctors use to evaluate prognosis in the Muskuloskeletal Tumor Clinic at Texas Children's Cancer Center. Discover what Texas Children's physicians and Baylor College of Medicine researchers are doing in the fields of Ewing sarcoma research and osteosarcoma research.