What is an adamantinoma?

Bones naturally grow and change as your child gets older. However, throughout this long process, problems can sometimes occur. An adamantinoma is a slow-growing cancerous bone tumor that’s most often found in the shinbone (tibia) or the jawbone (mandible). Occasionally, these tumors grow in the forearm, hands, or feet.

A diagnosis of a bone tumor can be overwhelming and your list of questions may seem endless. An important first step in understanding what lies ahead is familiarizing yourself with the basics about the type of tumor called an adamantinoma.

  • An adamantinoma is a rare tumor that occurs most often in boys and young men ages 10 to 30.
  • An adamantinoma is a serious condition requiring aggressive treatment.
  • The cause of this bone tumor is unknown.
  • An adamantinoma doesn’t respond to some traditional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation. Surgery is usually recommended to remove the tumor.
  • This kind of cancer spreads to other parts of the body about 20 percent of the time.
  • The best treatment is surgical removal of the tumor.
  • Amputation is rare, but it can be necessary in some cases.
  • Ongoing follow-up care is very important for keeping your child healthy and checking to see if the tumor has grown back.
  • For most children with adamantinoma, the long-term outlook is very positive. 

The detailed information on the following pages will help you gain a better understanding of adamantinoma and a clearer picture of what to expect.

What are the symptoms of an adamantinoma?

While symptoms of an adamantinoma may from child to child, the most common include:

  • pain (sharp or dull) at the site of the tumor
  • swelling and/or redness at the site of the tumor
  • increased pain with activity or lifting
  • limping
  • decreased movement of the affected limb 

You may have noticed these symptoms over a short period of time, or they may have been occurring for six months or more. In most cases of an adamantinoma, an injury brings your child into a medical facility, where an x-ray may show abnormalities in the bone. 

It’s important to keep in mind that the symptoms of an adamantinoma may resemble other medical problems, some of them which are very common and easy to treat, others which could be more serious. 

Your child may experience symptoms differently from those listed above. It is important to be evaluated by a physician to get an accurate diagnosis. Always consult your child's doctor if you have concerns.

What causes an adamantinoma?

Adamantinomas do not have an identifiable cause. If your child has an adamantinoma, he probably has sustained a trauma to the affected bone, but it’s unclear whether trauma is a cause of the tumor, or the tumor makes the bone weak and more likely to be injured.

How we care for adamantinomas

The diagnosis of a life-threatening condition, like cancer, affects your entire family. We’re here to help you every step of the way. At Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, we offer the ideal setting, utilizing world-recognized cancer expertise at Dana-Farber and internationally renowned pediatric expertise at Boston Children’s Hospital within the research and educational setting of Harvard Medical School. We are a top cancer center and top children’s hospital. 

Experts in our Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors Program are devoted to caring for children and teenagers with adamantinoma of the tibia and other bone and soft tissue disorders. Adamantinomas of the jawbone are treated through our Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Program. Children who need surgery as part of their treatment also receive treatment through our Orthopedic Center

Our multidisciplinary approach to care ensures in-depth discussion of each case and personalized treatment plans for every child. We integrate expertise from a wide variety of specialists: 

  • pediatric oncologists, surgical oncologists, and radiation oncologists
  • pediatric experts from every medical subspecialty, such as orthopedics, pathology, physical therapy, and radiology
  • highly skilled and experienced pediatric oncology nurses
  • Child Life specialists, psychologists, social workers, and resource specialists who provide supportive care before, during, and after treatment