Bone and soft tissue tumors

Tumours of bone and soft tissue are rare but can affect younger athletes in their 20's and 30's. Here are some of the more common forms.

Bone tumors

Osteosarcomata - This can occur at either end of the long bones of the body, more commonly in the lower lower limb producing pain in the joints. Pain is aggravated by activity. Diagnosis of osteosarcomata is often made by X-ray revealing a 'moth-eaten' appearance. In young athletes these symptoms may indicate osteomyelitis (an inflammatory process of bone). It is important that any child with bone pain is given an X-ray.

Osteoid osteoma is a benign bone tumor with symptoms of exercise related bone pain. Note this can often be misdiagnosed as a stress fracture - even the bone scan appearance is similar to that of a stress fracture. This condition is characterized by night pain and symptoms disappearing after taking aspirin.

Malignant tumors for example breast cancer, lung cancer or prostate cancer may spread to bone. Breast carcinoma can also mimic a frozen shoulder. Signs for malignancy include night pain, fever, loss of appetite, weight loss and malaise.

Soft tissue tumors

Synovial sarcoma - This frequently involves the knee and ankle more than other joints. Symptoms include pain, often at night or during activity as well as instability of the joint and swelling.

Synovial chondromotosis and pigmented villonodular synovitis are benign tumours of the synovium found mostly in the knee.

Ganglion cysts contain fluid are are found mainly in the wrist, hand and knee. The often attach to a joint capsule or tendon sheath. The do not usually have any symptoms but can cause pain and deformity.