How Chondrosarcoma Is Treated

Surgery is the main treatment for chondrosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that starts in cartilage cells. Other treatments sometimes used are radiotherapy and chemotherapy. You may be offered some treatments as part of a clinical trial.

The treatment you will have depends on the position and size of the cancer, if it has spread to other parts of the body, and your general health.

This article will discuss the treatments for chondrosarcoma in detail.

Doctor performing surgery and assistant hands out instruments inside modern operating room

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Surgery

The goal for the treatment of chondrosarcoma is to remove the cancerous mass with surgery to reduce the likelihood that it will return. 

The type of surgical procedure will depend on the size and location of the tumor, and your overall health. The aim of the surgery, where possible, is to remove the tumor, along with a wide margin of the surrounding healthy tissue. In some cases, this may involve amputation (removal of a limb).

For bones such as the femur or pelvis, the surgery may include complex reconstruction of the bone using:

  • Endoprosthetics: A metal implant in the bone or a false joint
  • Allograft bone: Using donated bone to repair the patient’s bone after surgery
  • Autologous bone: When bone is taken from another part of the patient’s body to replace the bone that has been removed during surgery

Removing chondrosarcoma can be complicated and requires careful individual planning at a hospital that specializes in these types of tumors.

Surgery is linked to side effects like pain, bleeding, and infection. But bone surgery has its own side effects that you will have to manage. Physical therapy is often needed to regain strength and use of the affected area after surgery.

Specialist-Driven Procedures

Radiation therapy—a procedure that uses high-powered waves to break down cancer cells—might be used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may be left behind. Radiation therapy is rarely effective on its own as a treatment for chondrosarcoma.

If the tumor is in the spine or base of the skull, it is much more difficult to remove without damaging the spine or brain. In these cases, radiation therapy may be used where it is not possible to remove the whole tumor surgically.

Radiation therapy can cause side effects like skin sores and vomiting. Talk with your healthcare provider about things you can do and medicines you can take to help prevent or control many treatment side effects.

Prescriptions

Chemotherapy is not generally used as a treatment for chondrosarcoma, as the tumors are resistant to the chemotherapy drugs, meaning that chemotherapy is not effective.

However, chemotherapy is sometimes used for patients with rare subtypes of chondrosarcoma called mesenchymal or dedifferentiated, as these seem to respond better than conventional chondrosarcomas. Chemotherapy drugs that can be used in this treatment include doxorubicin and cisplatin.

Clinical Trials

Chondrosarcoma is a rare cancer, so taking part in a clinical trial testing newer treatments might be an option to consider.

If you would like to learn more about clinical trials that might be right for you, start by asking your doctor if your clinic or hospital conducts clinical trials. 

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Therapies

Your medical team may recommend various over-the-counter products for the relief of symptoms or side effects of your treatment, such as OTC painkillers.

It is always important that you report any OTC medications, supplements, and herbal remedies that you are taking to your healthcare team. There is a risk of a reaction with your prescription medications and other forms of treatment (such as bleeding if aspirin is taken before surgery).

Some products will also not be advised during radiation or chemotherapy as they may increase side effects.

Home Remedies and Lifestyle

Physical therapy and rehabilitation are very important after surgery for bone cancer. Even with proper rehab, people might still have to adjust to long-term issues such as changes in how they walk or do other tasks, as well as changes in appearance.

You may also want to think about joining a support group for people with chondrosarcoma. A cancer diagnosis can be an isolating experience, and many find solace in groups of people who have been through a similar experience.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

There is little evidence to suggest that CAM treatments can cure chondrosarcoma or slow its growth, but there is positive evidence that some of these may help people cope with the symptoms of cancer and cancer treatments.

Some therapies you can use alongside your treatment plan include:

Again it should be noted that there are no alternative treatments that have been found effective in treating cancer directly.

Summary

The goal for the treatment of chondrosarcoma is to remove the mass with surgery to reduce the likelihood that it will return. The type of surgery you will have depends on where the cancer is located, its size, and your overall health.

If surgery is not an option, your healthcare provider will look at other possibilities and may be able to advise on clinical trials available to participate in.

A Word From Verywell

Treatment for chondrosarcoma can include life-changing surgery, and you may need a period of rehabilitation and physical therapy to help you cope when you are discharged from the hospital.

Chondrosarcoma is a rare cancer, and you may benefit from joining a support group that can help you and your loved ones through this difficult time.

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4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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