Sarcoma is a rare cancer that forms in the body’s fat cells; soft tissues such as muscles, nerves or tendons; blood vessels; tissues that surround joints; the spinal cord; or in the bones.

Bones are made up of different types of tissues, including the hard tissue on the outside, flexible cartilage, and fibrous tissue surrounding the joints and bone marrow, which is the soft, sponge-like material found inside the bones.

The spinal cord is a long column of nerve tissue that connects the brain stem to important nerves throughout the body. It is covered by layered tissue called membranes, which are surrounded by the backbones, or vertebrae.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

There is no such thing as a routine bone and spine sarcoma. Every patient’s cancer is different, with different, individually unique genes and molecules driving that specific cancer.

At the OSUCCC – James, our bone and spine sarcoma subspecialists are world-renowned cancer experts who focus solely on bone and spine sarcoma and who reach across medical disciplines (medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pharmacists and more) to design the very best treatment plan and therapies to target each patient’s specific cancer.

Not only is the OSUCCC – James also among the top five sarcoma programs in the country, it is also the only central Ohio provider for patients with recurrent sarcoma.

And by offering access to some of the country’s most advanced clinical trials right here at the OSUCCC – James, patients know that additional options, when needed, are often available for their treatment and care.

Types of Bone & Spine Sarcomas

There are several different types of bone and spine sarcomas (Primary Bone Tumors) that each have a very unique and specialized treatment. These include:


In the bones, sarcomas usually start in cells that form new but weaker bone tissue. Tumors usually form in the knee or upper arm.

Osteosarcomas can be further classified into subtypes based on the types of cells that make up the tumor. Types of treatment are Chemotherapy and surgery.


Chondrosarcoma, which affects older adults, begins in cells that make up the cartilage tissue. These tumors most commonly form in the pelvis, upper leg and shoulder and are treated with surgery.

Ewing's Sarcoma

Ewing’s sarcoma primarily affects children and adolescents, and it can form in cells in either bones or soft tissues. All  bone sarcomas  can form in or near the spine, and on the arm or leg.  

Osteosarcoma is treated with chemotherapy and surgery. Ewing’s sarcoma can be treated with chemotherapy in addition to radiation therapy and/or surgery whereas chondrosarcoma is treated with surgery alone.

A type of Ewing’s sarcoma, called primitive neuroectodermal tumor, or PNET, develops from early or immature cells (stem cells). PNET is more likely to form in the area of the spine or pelvis.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Metastatic Carcinoma of Bone and Spine

Metastatic carcinoma of bone and spine (also called metastatic bone disease) is a cancer that begins in an organ such as the lungs, thyroid, kidney or prostate, or the breast, and then spreads to bone. The OSUCCC – James is the only facility in central Ohio that provides comprehensive multidiscinplinary care of this disease.

When cancer begins in an organ and then spreads, it will most often go to the lung or the liver, but about 50 percent of those cancers will spread to a part of the skeleton.

When cancer spreads to skeleton, it will often go to one or more of the following places:

  • Spine
  • Pelvis
  • Ribs
  • Skull
  • Long bones of the upper arm
  • Long bones of the leg
(Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons)

Bone & Spine Sarcoma Symptoms

Osteosarcoma, Chondrosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma all have the same symptoms. These can include:

  • Swelling over a bone or bony part of the body
  • Constant pain at rest in a bone or joint
  • Intractable pain
  • Fever for no known reason (only for Ewing’s sarcoma)
  • A bone that breaks for no known reason
  • Neurological deficit (spine sarcoma)
  • Spinal instability (spine sarcoma)

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Metastatic Bone Carcinoma

Metastatic bone carcinoma symptoms include:

  • Pain (especially pain that increases with weight bearing)in the spine, pelvis, legs or arms, 
  • Constant pain at rest
  • Fractures, even from a seemingly minor trauma

Having these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have a bone and spine cancer. But if you have symptoms, you should tell your doctor, especially if symptoms have continued for longer than a few weeks.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a bone and spine sarcoma, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a sarcoma specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

460 West 10th Avenue

Columbus, Ohio 43210

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