Take the next step

Request a bone and muscle cancer appointment

Bone and Musculoskeletal Cancer

Information, risk factors, and symptoms

The musculoskeletal structure is made up of bones and soft tissue -- which supports your bones and connects your tissues and organs together. Soft tissue includes:

  • Blood vessels
  • Deep skin tissue
  • Fat
  • Muscle
  • Nerves
  • Tendons and ligaments
  • Synovial tissue (the tissue surrounding joints)

The network of bones and soft tissue that runs throughout your body is susceptible to cancer, like any other body organ.

Your bone and musculoskeletal cancer team

Our bone cancer team is one of only a few in the Midwest with two fellowship-trained, board-certified orthopedic oncologists. Between them, they have more than 40 years of experience in diagnosing and treating bone and musculoskeletal conditions such as malignant and benign bone tumors, soft-tissue tumors, and joint lesions.

The team also includes:

  • Medical oncologists -- who specialize in delivering chemotherapy and other powerful drugs to treat cancer
  • Pathologists -- who diagnose and stage tumors
  • Radiologists -- who use advanced medical imaging technology to diagnose cancer
  • Radiation oncologists -- who prescribe, administer, and monitor a range of specialized radiation treatments

If you’re diagnosed with bone and musculoskeletal cancer, this team will work together to develop a personalized treatment plan based on your specific disease, medical history, and preferences. They’ll also connect you with support groups and counseling services.

Risk factors for bone and musculoskeletal cancer

Most people with bone cancers do not have any apparent risk factors. A few of the known risk factors include:

  • Bone marrow transplant: Recipients are at a slightly higher risk for developing osteosarcoma -- cancer of the bone.
  • Genetic disorders: A very small number of inherited disorders -- those that run in families -- can put you at higher risk for bone and musculoskeletal cancer.
  • Paget disease: This condition results in the formation of abnormal bone tissue. Bone cancer develops in about 1 percent of patients with Paget disease.
  • Radiation: People with previous high doses of radiation exposure, such as radiation therapy for previous cancer treatment, are at higher risk for bone and musculoskeletal cancer.

Signs and symptoms of bone and musculoskeletal cancer

Detecting cancer early helps us treat it successfully. If you experience any of the following symptoms, see a doctor to diagnose your condition:

  • Lumps: A lump may be painless at first, but will grow more painful as it becomes bigger and presses against nerves and muscles.
  • Pain: Soreness in the affected bone or soft tissue area starts when you use or move the affected area, but worsens as the cancer progresses. Bone cancer on or near a fracture can cause sudden pain instead of soreness.
  • Swelling: Depending on the location of the tumor, detecting swelling could be difficult.

While these symptoms are not necessarily indicators of bone or musculoskeletal cancer, it’s important to see a doctor to rule out that possibility.


Show Me

View All Blog Posts

Clinical Trials

Cancer Institute