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Health Information Center


  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:



(Cartilage Cancer; Cancer of the Cartilage)


Chondrosarcoma is a type of cancer. It grows in cartilage cells in the body. Cartilage is connective tissue that protects bones and joints.

This cancer is most common in the thigh, arm, ribs, or pelvis.


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Cancer happens when cells divide without control or order. These cells grow together to form a tumor. They can invade and damage nearby tissues. They can also spread to other parts of the body. It is not clear what causes changes in the cells. It is likely a combination of genes and environment.

Risk Factors

Chondrosarcoma is more common in adults between 40 and 75 years old. The risk is higher in people who have:

  • Enchondroma—harmless bone tumors mainly found in the hands
  • Osteochondroma —too much cartilage or bone at the end of a growth plate
  • Ollier disease—causes a group of enchondromas
  • Maffucci syndrome—many endochondromas and other types of tumors


Chondrosarcoma may cause:

  • A large mass on a bone
  • Pressure around the mass
  • Pain that:
    • Worsens at night
    • Does not get better with rest
    • Slowly worsens over time and may last for years


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:

The tests will find the grade of the cancer. Chondrosarcoma is graded from 1 to 4. Grade 1 is a local cancer. Grade 4 has spread to other sites in the body.


Surgery is the most common treatment for chondrosarcoma. The tumor is removed with a border of healthy tissue around it. If the tumor is in an arm or leg, the doctor will try to save the limb. Sometimes amputation is needed.

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be used if cancer has come back or spread to other sites.


There are no known ways to prevent chondrosarcoma.





  • Bone tumors and bone sarcomas. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/bone-tumors-and-bone-sarcomas.
  • Chondrosarcoma. Bone Tumor website. Available at: http://bonetumor.org/tumors-cartilage/chondrosarcoma.
  • Chondrosarcoma. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22112-chondrosarcoma.
  • Whelan JS, Davis LE. et al. J Clin Oncol. 2018;36(2):188-193.


  • Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.