What is bone cancer?
Bone cancer is a rare cancer that forms in the cells of bones. As the supporting framework of the body, the bones provide structure and shape to the body, act as braces for muscles to produce movement and protect internal organs.
Most bones are hollow and consist of a hard outer portion (onto which calcium salts are deposited), a spongy inner tissue that contains bone marrow (which makes and stores blood cells) and cartilage at each end of the bone (which acts as a cushion between bones).
Despite its solid appearance, bone is a very active tissue that is constantly in the process of changing and remodeling. The bone itself contains three main types of cells that control this process: osteoblasts (which form new bone), osteocytes (which help maintain bone) and osteoclasts (which break down bone).
Cancer that begins in the bone (known as primary bone cancer) is not the same disease as cancer that starts in another part of the body and spreads (or metastasizes) to the bone (called secondary bone cancer). While it can occur in any of the bones of the body, primary bone cancer most often occurs in the long bones of the arms and legs.
Bone cancer incidence
According to bone cancer information from the American Cancer Society, primary bone cancers account for less than 0.2 percent of all cancers, with approximately 3,200 new cases expected to be diagnosed in the United States in 2017.