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At Boston Children’s Hospital, we understand that you may have a lot of questions if your child is diagnosed with a chondroblastoma. Will it affect my child long term? What do we do next? We’ve provided some answers to those questions on this site, and when you meet with our doctors, they can fully explain your child’s condition.
What is chondroblastoma?
Every child has chondroblasts—specialized, cartilage-producing cells. But sometimes, these cells can grow out of control and cause a benign (non-cancerous) tumor known as a chondroblastoma. These tumors are usually found in the ends of long bones, such as the thighbone, upper arm bone or shinbone. Sometimes they grow in the pelvis or the hip socket. While a chondroblastoma is considered a benign tumor, it does have the potential to spread (metastasize) to the lungs.
How serious is chondroblastoma? Why is it a problem?
Although benign and not life-threatening, chondroblastoma is a slow-growing tumor that weakens the bone and causes kids a lot of pain. Chondroblastoma is also hard to diagnose; it can cause teens and their families a great deal of frustration while doctors go through the process of ruling out other conditions with similar symptoms.
Is chondroblastoma common?
No, chondroblastoma is a very rare type of benign bone tumor. It appears more often in boys than girls and tends to occur during a child’s teenage years, around the time that the growth plates start to close.
How do you diagnose chondroblastoma?
Doctors use some combination of the following techniques to diagnose chondroblastoma:
How do you treat chondroblastoma?
Specialists usually treat chondroblastoma with surgery. The tumor often occurs near a joint, making it a challenge to remove.
Does my child’s bone growth affect how you treat his chondroblastoma?
The majority of kids who develop chondroblastomas are older teens whose growth plates are starting to close; so their growth plates are unlikely to be affected by surgery to remove the tumor. But with younger teens or children, surgeons take extra care not to disturb the growth plate when removing the tumor.
How long after treatment will it take for my child to feel better, and heal?
Teens and children often feel better almost immediately after surgery, which usually involves bone grafting. It takes about two to three months for a knee or leg graft to heal, and kids usually use crutches for much of that time. Arms heal a bit faster, since the body puts less physical stress on the arm.
Is there a risk of early arthritis when my child grows up?
Even with successful surgery to remove the chondroblastoma, if the tumor involved the bones of a joint there’s still some risk of early arthritis (joint inflammation) when a child reaches adulthood.
Will my child be OK?
Your child’s long-term health outlook after surgery for chondroblastoma is very good, although the condition can recur. It may require multiple operations to eventually be free of the tumor, but it helps to remember that this is a benign tumor, and that with timely treatment it won’t spread.
At Children’s, our research into bone problems means that we can provide your child with the most innovative care available. The overwhelming majority of children treated for chondroblastoma at Children’s have corrections that enable their bones to grow and function normally—so they can walk, play, grow and live active lives.
How can Boston Children’s Hospital help?
The team in our Bone and Soft Tissue Tumor Program is known for innovative treatments and a research-driven approach. Boston Children’s is home to the world’s most extensive pediatric research enterprise, and we partner with elite health care and biotech organizations around the globe. But as specialists in family-centered care, our doctors never forget that your child is precious, and not just a patient.
Chondroblasts are specialized cells found at the end of bones that normally produce cartilage. Sometimes, these cells can grow out of control and cause a benign tumor known as a chondroblastoma. The cause of this condition is unknown and is being researched.
While symptoms may vary from child-to-child, the most common include:
The symptoms of chondroblastoma may resemble those of other medical problems. So, it’s important that your child be evaluated by a doctor to obtain an accurate diagnosis.
A bone tumor should be treated quickly and correctly—the sooner a chondroblastoma is diagnosed and treated, the better the chances for a successful removal of the tumor. Consult your pediatrician immediately if your child has:
The teenage years are when kids are more likely to develop chondroblastoma. Boys are slightly more likely than girls to develop the tumor. Beyond these factors, there’s no way to predict who’s at risk for developing a chondroblastoma.
Although complications after surgery for chondroblastomas are relatively uncommon, they can occur and can include:
Our research into bone tumors means that we can provide your child with the most innovative care available. As a result, the overwhelming majority of children treated for chondroblastoma at Children’s have treatment that enables their bones to grow and function normally—so they can walk, play, grow and live active lives.
If you’re teen with a chondroblastoma, you have a lot to cope with. Besides the typical issues any teenager faces—from social acceptance to body changes and more—you’ll also have to deal with medical appointments and procedures, and with limiting your activities while you get better.
If you’re usually active, sitting on the sidelines for a while as you heal can be frustrating. If you feel down, angry or anxious through this important time in your life, speak to your doctor, parent or counselor to get help—they’re all on your team, and they want to help. And remember that Children’s Bone and Soft Tissue Tumor Program is always here for you, too.
Since there’s no way to predict who’s at risk for developing a chondroblastoma, there’s also no known way to prevent one from developing.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”