Sarcoma is a broad term that describes cancerous tumors that can develop from bone, tissue around joints, fat, muscle, nerves, fibrous tissues, blood vessels, or deep skin tissues. Sarcomas can develop in any part of the body. Bone and soft tissue sarcomas are rare conditions that affect approximately 13,000 people each year. In the US, 10,000 are diagnosed with soft tissue sarcomas and approximately 3,000 are diagnosed with bone sarcomas, of which 1,000 are osteosarcomas.

The rarity of sarcomas means most doctors seldom see one, which explains why patients are often referred to specialty hospitals where experienced surgeons utilize limb-sparing (no amputation) surgery whenever possible.

Included in the list below are the different types of sarcoma:


Chondrosarcoma is found mainly in adults. Limb sparing surgery (LSS) is a special operative procedure performed by oncology orthopedic surgeons and has become the accepted standard of care for patients with sarcomas of the extremities. The cancer in the bone or soft tissue is removed surgically and replacement of bones and joints is done with metal prostheses and/or reconstruction of the defect. Even though the salvaged extremity looks and moves in a near-normal manner, function rarely returns to 100% normal. Common causes of prosthesis failure include infection, aseptic loosening, bone resorbtion and fracture.

Ewing's Sarcoma

Ewing's sarcoma is a cancerous tumor that usually begins growing in a bone. It occurs primarily in children and young adults, often appearing during the teen years. Although Ewing's sarcoma can develop in any bone, it usually affects the long bones, such as the thighbone (femur), shinbone (tibia), and upper arm bone (humerus). The bones of the pelvis are also often affected.

Fibrosarcoma of Bone

Fibrosarcoma of the bone is a cancerous tumor that represents only about 10% of musculoskeletal sarcomas and less than 5% of all primary tumors of bone. These occur slightly more commonly in men than in women. Fibrosarcoma of bone can be diagnosed in patients of any age, but it is diagnosed more commonly in patients in their 40’s. It is usually located in the lower extremities, especially the femur and tibia.


Osteosarcoma is the most common bone cancer. It is a cancer that begins in bone (primary bone cancer) which is different from cancer that begins somewhere else in the body and spreads to bone (secondary bone cancer). More males are affected than females. Osteosarcoma starts in the ends of long bones of the arms or legs where new bone tissue rapidly forms with most tumors occurring around the knee. Other common locations include the hip and shoulder.

Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Soft tissue sarcomas are cancerous tumors that grow in muscles, fat, joints, nerves or blood vessels. Soft tissue sarcomas make up 1% of all cancer types. Studies have connected soft tissue sarcomas to exposure to certain chemicals, high-dose radiation, certain viral infections, and to specific genetic abnormalities. In most cases, the cause is unknown.

Orthopedic Oncology