Most benign bone tumors do not cause any symptoms and do not require treatment. If symptoms do appear, a doctor should be consulted.
What are benign bone tumors?
By definition, bone tumors are growths in bony tissue. According to abbreviationfinder.org, they are divided into primary and secondary bone tumors. Primary bone tumors arise from the bone tissue itself and can be benign or malignant.
Benign bone tumors grow slowly and do not metastasize. Secondary bone tumors are malignant. They are caused by metastases from a cancerous tumor from another organ, such as the breast or lungs. In most cases, however, a benign bone tumor is present.
There are two large groups:
On the one hand, there are large, painful tumor structures that, in the worst case, can cause deformity of the spine or paralysis. Benign bone tumors smaller than two centimeters are called osteoid osteomas. They can cause pain, especially at night, and also impair the stability of the spine.
The most common type is osteochondroma. This is a mushroom-shaped tumor that tends to form in the ends of long bones. Osteochondromas usually occur sporadically. In rare cases, there is a multiple osteochondroma, in which many tumors form at once, usually in childhood.
The causes of benign bone tumors are often not entirely clear. Osteochondroma and osteoma types can be inherited. Chemical and physical external influences are discussed as further possible causes, including the effects of nuclear radiation or injuries.
Benign bone tumors occur particularly frequently when there is rapid bone growth. Most of those affected can therefore be found by the age of 30. Growth hormones can affect the risk of a benign bone tumor.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Benign bone tumors can cause a wide range of symptoms and symptoms. Depending on the type and location of the tumor, there may be pain in the affected area, swelling, and fractures. A tumor near the joint can cause a joint effusion, which can be seen externally and is usually very painful.
Pressure damage to nerves and vessels is typical of benign bone tumors. In addition, bone growth is inhibited and there is an acute risk that bones and joints will deform. In severe cases, a bone tumor leads to restricted movement. The affected person then feels severe pain even with slight movements, which makes physical work and sporting activities considerably more difficult.
However, benign bone tumors are rarely life-threatening. The symptoms can gradually become more severe, but they can also occur with the same intensity throughout life. Small tumors often go unnoticed by the patient and are only recognized during a preventive examination.
Large bone tumors may be visible from the outside, for example when an effusion forms or the bone deforms. Metastasis or recurrence may occur. Chronic pain can also develop if the tumor is treated too late or not at all.
Diagnosis & History
To detect benign bone tumors, pain and function tests, such as a stress test, are done. The blood flow to the affected bones and joints is also examined during the diagnosis.
If the course is very advanced, deformations of the joints and bones can be seen. A definitive diagnosis is made using an X-ray, which shows typical changes. A CT, MRI and/or a tissue sample provide certainty as to whether the tumor is benign or malignant.
Furthermore, certain types of benign bone tumors occur preferentially at certain sites. For example, osteochondromas are usually found on the ends of the lower and thigh bones close to the joint.
Most sufferers only go to the doctor if their benign bone tumor is painfully pressing on a nerve or restricting the range of motion in a joint. A benign bone tumor often remains undetected and symptom-free.
Usually the growth only grows as long as the bone grows. Therefore, the tumors are mainly found in children and adolescents. Certain types of tumors can develop into malignant tumors. Overall, however, the chances of recovery from benign bone tumors are very good.
In many cases, these tumors do not need to be treated or examined by a doctor. There is usually no pain or other symptoms and the patient’s quality of life is not affected by the disease. However, treatment is necessary if these tumors cause symptoms.
Pain occurs in the affected bones and the bones can be broken much more easily, increasing the risk of accidents for the patient. Various deformations of the bones and joints also occur, which can lead to pain or restricted mobility in the patient. In children, bone growth is reduced. This can also lead to symptoms after broken bones, when the bones no longer grow together properly.
It is not uncommon for pain at rest to occur in addition to stress-related pain, which can have a negative effect on the sleep of the person concerned. The diagnosis is usually incidental. A targeted diagnosis can only be carried out if there are symptoms. There are no further complications during the treatment. The tumors can be removed relatively easily, so that the symptoms then disappear. Life expectancy is usually not reduced. However, in some cases, bone cancer can develop.
When should you go to the doctor?
People suffering from changes in the skeleton must consult a doctor. If swelling occurs without external influences or ulcers form on the body, this is considered unusual and should be clarified. If there are restrictions in the movement sequences, a one-sided posture or an incorrect load on the body, a doctor’s visit is necessary. If there is a feeling of tightness on the skin, discoloration or cracks in the skin, a doctor should be consulted to clarify the symptoms.
If there are wounds, bleeding or leakage of other bodily fluids, a doctor should be consulted immediately. A reduction in the usual physical strength and performance as well as complaints of the muscles, tendons or nerves must be examined and treated. If blood circulation problems occur, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. In the case of bone pain, a feeling of warmth on the skin, increased temperature or fever, a doctor must clarify the symptoms.
If the person concerned suffers from increased tiredness, exhaustion, unsteady gait or dizziness, he should seek medical treatment. If there is inner restlessness, psychological problems or behavioral problems, a doctor is needed. Patients with diagnosed benign bone tumors should consult a doctor as soon as the abnormalities change or the existing symptoms spread further.
Treatment & Therapy
The specific treatment depends on what the tumor is, how big it is, where it is located and how old the patient is. Most benign bone tumors are surgically removed as gently as possible. Either artificial implants or your own healthy bone tissue are placed in this place.
After the operation, any adhesions in the scar area are loosened using ultrasound or a soft laser. If mobility is restricted due to adhesions in the joints, physiotherapy and/or occupational therapy are prescribed.
In the case of growths that only grow very slowly and do not cause any symptoms, it can often be sufficient to observe the course for changes. Some benign bone tumors go away on their own over time and do not require any treatment. There are also tumors that heal after a bone fracture.
If an osteochondroma is present, it should be surgically removed, since this benign type of tumor can develop into bone cancer in 10 to 20 percent of cases.
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis of benign bone tumors depends on the type and group of the tumor. In principle, despite the bone tumors, a patient can lead a good life with the disease without shortening his lifespan. However, it is advisable to remove the tumor, as this can lead to complications and an immense deterioration in the favorable prognosis.
There are tumors that press on surrounding regions in the body, causing symptoms. Vessels and other supply lines of the organism are restricted in their functional activity by the tumors and trigger symptoms. It can lead to paralysis or severe pain. Without treatment and removal of the tumor, the symptoms gradually increase. The patient’s quality of life decreases. The diseased tissue is surgically removed so that the symptoms that have developed recede.
Complications can arise during treatment and there is a chance that surrounding areas have suffered irreparable damage. The most common type of benign bone tumor is a fungal tumor. The osteochondroma can often be detached using ultrasound or laser technology and removed from the organism. If there is no medical care, the patient bears the risk that the tumor will mutate into a malignant tumor as the disease progresses.
There are no known ways to prevent benign bone tumors. If you experience symptoms such as pain, restricted mobility or even deformation, you should definitely consult a doctor. This is especially true for children who are still growing.
Even benign bone tumors may require surgical removal and longer monitoring. The benign nature of these tumor types refers only to the tumor mass itself. In most cases, it is not life-threatening or fatal.
Nevertheless, benign bone tumors can lead to broken bones and other health consequences. The term “benign bone tumors” describes slow-growing tumors that establish themselves in the cartilage mass or in the bone tissue.
The sharp demarcation and the lack of soft tissue involvement are typical indicators of benignity. Nevertheless, these bone tumors usually have to be removed because benign tumors like these can lead to pain and bone fractures.
In about half of the benign bone tumors, after the surgical removal of the tumor mass, follow-up care is only necessary until the wound has healed. The differentiation from tumor-like lesions – such as bone cysts, ganglia, fibrous dysplasia or fibrous cortical defects – should be made.
It is known that the existence of benign bone tumors such as giant cell tumors can lead to metastasis. In this case, the treatment must be appropriate. It includes medical follow-up care. This can extend over five or ten years. From a medical point of view, tumor-like lesions are also precarious. Like an aneurysmal bone cyst, these can lead to destruction or joint loss.
You can do that yourself
Benign bone tumors generally do not require treatment unless they constrict bodily structures or cause dysfunction. However, there are some things patients can do to help themselves.
If the tumor has not been operated on, those affected should comply with regular check-ups or consult a doctor if there are new or changing symptoms in order to avoid complications. Even if there are no symptoms, self-help in everyday life is helpful in the long run.
Even benign bone tumors can increase the risk of fracture of the affected bone. Patients have two options for preventing this risk in everyday life: On the one hand, it is important to avoid heavy or abrupt stress, especially the combination of twisting and compression of the bone. On the other hand, it is also important to build up a muscle corset through appropriate training that protects and stabilizes the bone structure.
The cooperation of the patient is also important after an operation on a benign bone tumor. Especially in the case of low resilience or functional limitations, the person affected learns exercises within the framework of physiotherapy or occupational therapy that provide muscular support for the bones and rebuild their functionality. These exercises can then be continued at home on your own. In addition, the patient can also accelerate the regeneration of the skin incision necessary for the operation through consistent scar care.