top of page

What is Osteosarcoma?

Osteosarcoma is a rare type of cancer that starts in the bones. It is most often impacts children and young adults but any age group can be diagnosed. Osteosarcoma most often starts in the long bones of the arms or legs, near the ends of the bones, particularly the knee and shoulder joints. It can also start in the bones of the pelvis, ribs, skull, or spine.

There are also rare subtypes of Osteosarcoma such as parosteal, periosteal, telangiectatic and small cell osteosarcoma

Causes of Osteosarcoma

The exact cause of osteosarcoma is unknown. However, it is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.


Some risk factors for osteosarcoma include:

  • Being a teenager or young adult

  • Having a family history of osteosarcoma

  • Being exposed to certain chemicals, such as radiation or certain types of chemotherapy drugs

  • Having certain genetic syndromes, such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome or Rothmund-Thomson syndrome

Symptoms of Osteosarcoma

The symptoms of osteosarcoma can vary depending on the location of the tumour.


Common symptoms include:

  • Pain in the affected bone that can come and go (especially at night)

  • Swelling or redness around the affected bone

  • A lump or mass on the affected bone

  • Limping or difficulty walking

  • Fatigue

  • Weight loss

  • Loss of appetite

These symptoms can be caused by many other things other than Osteosarcoma but if you have any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor right away. 

Treatment for Osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma is a serious disease and treatment plans can be different based on the size, position and stage of the cancer. It is often treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. For some people they may also have radiotherapy.

Support for Osteosarcoma

Getting a diagnosis of Osteosarcoma can be scary and confusing. The physical effects of treatment can be challenging at the time and life changing afterwards. Worry, doubt and unanswered questions run through the mind as you come to terms with your situation.


It may feel like you are on your own, but others have been here before you. Bone Sarcoma Peer Support can connect you to others that have been there before to provide you support using their own unique experience.

bottom of page