For a more detailed guide, please read our osteosarcoma information pack

Also known as:

Osteogenic sarcoma


What is osteosarcoma?

Osteosarcoma is a type of primary bone cancer – one that starts in the bones, rather than spreads there from other sites. It is part of a group of cancers called sarcomas, that start in the connective tissues and bones. It begins in cells called osteoblasts that make the bone material.

The most common sites for osteosarcoma are the long bones, especially the thigh bone or femur close to the knee and the top of the upper arm bone (humerus) near to the shoulder although they can form in any bone. Osteosarcoma may initially cause pain or difficulty moving if it is near a joint, there may also be a lump or swelling. Very rarely the bone will fracture.

Treatment is surgery, usually limb-sparing surgery where the affected bone is removed and replaced with chemotherapy before and/or afterwards to reduce the size of the tumour and kill any remaining cells.

How rare is osteosarcoma?

This is a very rare cancer, with only 158 cases in the UK in 2019. This represents an incidence of 0.23 cases per 100,000 people.

Who does osteosarcoma affect?

Osteosarcoma is most often seen in children and teenagers, often associated with periods of fast growth where it appears in the growing parts of the bones. When it affects adults, they tend to be older, typically over 60. Osteosarcoma tends to affect more males than females. It is also associated with previous radiotherapy or some inherited disorders that increase the risk of several cancers.

Why is RareCan interested in osteosarcoma?

RareCan is working to accelerate research into osteosarcoma by making it easier for researchers to connect with people who have it. You can help us do this by becoming a RareCan member and sharing information with us about your osteosarcoma diagnosis. We will then get in touch with you about any research opportunities that might be suitable for you.

Looking for a different cancer type?

Please visit our ‘rare cancer list’ to search for your cancer type 

Useful links

If you are looking for further support with osteosarcoma we recommend the following websites:

Sarcoma UK

Sarcoma UK

Sarcoma UK is a charity for those with bone and soft tissue sarcoma diagnoses including osteosarcoma. They provide information on all types of sarcomas and have a patient support line to help assist with any queries and worries.

BCRT logo

Bone Cancer Research Trust

Bone Cancer Research Trust is a charity that offers support and information to those affected by bone cancers.