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What are bone tumors and bone cysts?

Bone tumors and bone cysts are types of abnormal growth within a bone. Most bone tumors and bone cysts are benign (noncancerous).

This page focuses on noncancerous bone tumors and bone cysts. For information about cancerous tumors, visit our Solid Tumor Center.

A bone tumor is a lump or mass of bone that forms when cells divide and form new cells at a much more rapid pace that usual. Most bone tumors are benign and do not spread to other parts of the body. But they can cause pain, weaken the bone, and increase the risk of fracture (broken bone).

There are different types of bone tumors. The most common types include osteochondromas, giant cell tumors, non-ossifying fibromas, and osteoid osteomas.

A bone cyst is a fluid-filled area inside a growing bone. Most bone cysts develop in the long bones of the arms or legs. They often have no symptoms and go away on their own. However, some bone cysts weaken the bone and increase the risk of fracture. Different types of bone cysts include unicameral bone cysts and aneurysmal bone cysts.

Types of bone tumors

Your child’s treatment will depend on the type of their bone tumor or cyst, as well as its size, location, and how it is affecting your child and their bone.

Bone-forming tumors

Cartilage-forming tumors (chondromas)

Fibrous lesions

Other tumors

Types of bone cysts

  • simple (unicameral) bone cyst
  • aneurysmal bone cyst (ABC)

How we care for bone tumors and bone cysts

The pediatric orthopedic surgeons in the Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors Program at Boston Children’s Hospital are nationally recognized for their expertise in caring for children with bone tumors, bone cysts, and soft tissue tumors. Children with solid tumors are treated through the Solid Tumor Center at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, an integrated pediatric hematology and oncology partnership between Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children's Hospital.

We take a multidisciplinary approach to ensuring that every one of our patients receives personalized, supportive care before, during, and after their treatment. Depending on their clinical needs, your child’s care team may include:

  • pediatric orthopedic and general surgeons who are nationally and internationally recognized for their expertise in removing bone and soft tissue tumors
  • pediatric experts in pathology, radiology, physical therapy, and bracing/casting
  • experienced pediatric nurses
  • child life specialists, psychologists, social workers, and resource specialists

We are known for innovative treatments and our research-driven approach to care. In addition to a wide variety of clinical trials, our experts also conduct extensive lab research to identify new treatments and improve therapies.

Bone Tumors and Bone Cysts | Programs & Services