Bone Cancer

Note: The information on cancer types on the ACRF website is not designed to provide medical or professional advice and is for information only. If you have any health problems or questions please consult your doctor. All statistics have been sourced from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Bone cancer statistics:

  • Primary bone cancers are rare, with 195 new cases recorded in Australia in 2007.
  • Bone cancers are the second most common cause of death in children, teenagers and young adults, next to brain tumours.

More cancer stats

Bone Cancer Overview:

Our bones form a protective structure that supports our body and allows us to move. There are more than 200 bones in the human body, all made up of different types of cells that build up, maintain or break down the bone to maintain its shape and strength. Inside some of our bones is a space filled with bone marrow – this is where blood cells are made. Cancers that arise in the cells produced in the bone marrow (like leukaemia, multiple myeloma and lymphoma) are not considered bone cancers even though they do certainly affect the bone, and may require orthopaedic management.

Primary bone cancer is very rare. It happens when bone cells multiply, usually and rapidly, and begin to break down the bone. Bone cancer cells can also break away from the bone and travel to other bones, or other organs in the body when they can continue to grow as secondary tumours.

Types of Bone Cancer

There are many types of bone cancer, the most common being:

More often, people with cancer in their bones have a secondary cancer from somewhere else in the body. When the secondary cancer starts to grow within the bone, it still represents the original cell type (ie. a breast cancer cell, or a lung cancer cell for example), and is best treated as such. While any cancer type can spread to the bone, the most common are breast, lung, kidney, thyroid, and prostate. Bone metastases most often arise in the hip, thighbone, shoulder, and spine.

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