Symptoms of chondrosarcoma

This information has been written for patients, their families and friends, and the general public to help them understand more about chondrosarcoma: what it is and the different types. This information is produced in accordance with BCRT's information policy.

What are the symptoms and clinical signs of chondrosarcoma?

Presentation: doctors talk about 'presentation' when they mean 'symptoms' and 'clinical signs'.

Symptoms are what the patient or parent/ carer see or feel. Clinical signs are what the doctors may see during a physical examination, giving doctors clues about what is wrong with the patient.

The main symptoms of chondrosarcoma are:

  • Localised pain, which can be dull in nature, occurring at rest and may become worse at night. Pain may also become progressively worse.

  • Local swelling.

  • Walking with a limp or having restricted movement of a joint (if near the affected bone).

These symptoms can be present alone or in combination. These symptoms are often of long duration, possibly several months or years. The average duration of symptoms before diagnosis is thought to be between 1 and 2 years.

20-30% of chondrosarcomas are painless and may only be found when a patient suffers with a fractured bone caused by a mild injury, such as from a minor fall or accident. The fracture can happen where the bone has been weakened by the tumour. This is known as a pathological fracture.

Around 50% of patients with spinal chondrosarcoma will experience neurological symptoms, which result from the tumour pressing on the nerves in the spine. This can include pain, numbness or tingling, muscle spasms or even muscle weakness.

The symptoms of chondrosarcoma are all common to other conditions, which makes it hard for doctors to reach the correct diagnosis.

Clinical signs:
  • A mass that can be felt (palpable) when undergoing physical examination,
  • Broken bone (fracture).

(Kim et al., 2011, Ryzewicz et al., 2007, Björnsson et al., 1998, Marco et al., 2000a, Mirra et al., 1985, Murphy et al., 1996, Kleihues et al., 2006, Lor Randal and Hunt, 2010, Kim et al., 2011)

The authors and reviewers of this information are committed to producing reliable, accurate and up to date content reflecting the best available research evidence, and best clinical practice. We aim to provide unbiased information free from any commercial conflicts of interest. This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. BCRT can answer questions about primary bone cancers, including treatments and research but we are unable to offer specific advice about individual patients. If you are worried about any symptoms please consult your doctor.

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Version 2 produced January 2013
Information will be reviewed in January 2015

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