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Regional Medical Center of San Jose
Good Samaritan Hospital

Osteosarcoma -- Child


Osteosarcoma is a common form of bone cancer. This cancer usually begins in cells called osteoblasts, which make bones. This type of cancer can spread to other parts of the body.


The cause is not known. There may be a genetic link.

Risk Factors

Osteosarcoma is more common in teenage boys.

Factors that may increase the risk of osteosarcoma include:


Symptoms may include:

  • Swelling or a lump at the location of the tumor—usually affects longer bones
  • Pain at the tumor location
  • Difficulty moving the affected limb
  • Limping
  • Deep bone pain severe enough to wake up your child
  • Bone fractures (rarely)


You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Your child's bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:

Images may be taken of your child's bodily structures. This can be done with:


Once cancer is found, the doctor will do staging tests to find out if the cancer has spread. Treatment depends on the stage and location of the cancer. Talk with the doctor and healthcare team about the best treatment plan for your child. Options include:


Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body killing mostly cancer cells.


Surgery involves the removal of the tumor, nearby tissues, and nearby lymph nodes. Surgery may require amputation of the limb . Whenever possible, the doctor will try to remove the cancerous part of the bone without amputating. Sometimes, treatment with chemotherapy can help avoid the need for amputation.


With radiation therapy, radiation is directed at the tumor to kill the cancer cells.

Radiation of Tumor
Radiation of Tumor
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There is no known way to prevent this type of bone cancer.

Revision Information

  • American Cancer Society

  • National Cancer Institute

  • BC Cancer Agency

  • Health Canada

  • Childhood cancer: osteosarcoma. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: Updated September 2014. Accessed June 18, 2015.

  • Osteosarcoma in children. Children’s Hospital Boston website. Available at: Accessed June 18, 2015.