Chondro-osseous tumours

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A chondro-osseous tumour (osteosarcoma). H&E stain.

Chondro-osseous tumours occasionally cross the desk of the pathologist. They are grouped together as bone may develop from cartilage.

Primary bone tumours are rare; the most common bone tumour is metastases.[1]

Bone tumours occasionally are lumped with soft tissue tumours. Soft tissue tumours are dealt with in the soft tissue lesions article. An introduction to bone is found in the bone article. An introduction to cartilage is found in the cartilage article.


  • Diagnosis of a primary bone tumour should not be made without radiologic & clinical information!
  • Metastasis:primary bone tumours = >20:1.[1]

Common malignant


  • Osteosarcoma -> 2nd decade.
  • Ewing's ->5-20 yrs.
  • Chondrosarcoma -> from enchondroma or osteochrondroma -- patients over 40 yrs.
  • Multiple myeloma -> most common primary bone tumour in adults.

Malignant bone tumours by age

Most common by age:[2]

Benign aggressive bone tumours


Summary tables

Bone tumours

Entity Key feature Other features Radiology / gross Clinical Stains / other Image
Osteoma normal bone (???) other features (???) radiology / gross (???) ? no stains / may be assoc. with FAP
Osteoma. (WC)
Osteoid osteoma osteoblastic rimming anastomosing bony trabeculae must be <2 cm,[5] metaphysis painful, NSAIDs remove pain, young IHC / other
Osteoid osteoma. (WC)
Osteoblastoma osteoblastic rimming anastomosing bony trabeculae must be >1 cm,[5] often >=2 cm, metaphysis not painful IHC / other
Osteoblastoma. (WC)
Ewing sarcoma small round blue cell tumour cytoplasmic clearing (due to glycogen) usu. diaphysis pediatric, typically 1-10 years PAS+, PASD-, chromosomal translocations (usually t(11;22)(q24;q12))
Ewing sarcoma. PAS stain. (WC)
Osteosarcoma osteoid +/-hemorrhage, +/-cartilage distal femur, prox. tibia, prox. humerous typically 10-30 years, pain, swelling no stains; many subtypes
Osteosarcoma. (WC)
Giant cell tumour of bone abundant giant cells nuclei of surrounding cells similar to those in giant cells growth plate of long bones 20-45 years old, +/-joint pain, +/-immobility IHC / other
Giant cell tumour. (WC)

Cartilage tumours

Entity Key feature Other features Radiology / gross Clinical Stains / other Image
Chondroma ctyologically benign cells equally spaced nests usu. diaphysis benign / DDx: chondroma, well-diff. chondrosarcoma IHC / bone marrow cavity chondroma = enchondroma
Enchondroma. (WC)
Chondroblastoma abundant extracellular material, abundant eosinophilic cytoplasm calcifications surround cells nests ("chickenwire" appearance) - classic epiphysis DDx: giant cell tumour of bone S100+ve, vimentin +ve
Chondroblastoma. (WC)
Chondrosarcoma cartilaginous appearance +/- nuclear atypia lack osteoid, if present -> osteosarcoma usu. diaphysis, classically hip; almost never distal extremity >40 years old IHC / may be histologically benign looking
Chondrosarcoma. (WC)


Entity Key feature Other features Radiology / gross Clinical Stains / other Image
Osteochondroma benign bone and cartilage Other features metaphyseal lesions Clinical IHC / other Image
Adamantinoma bisphasic - stroma & epithelium Other features tibia, fibula, intracortical, radiolucent Clinical IHC / other
Adamantinoma. (WC)
Diffuse tenosynovial giant-cell tumour (AKA PVNS) pigmented giant cells nodules Radiology / gross Clinical IHC / other
Brown tumour fibrosis, +/-giant cells unaffected bone incr. osteoblasts and osteoclasts Radiology / gross due to hypercalcemia; not a neoplasm IHC / other
Brown tumour. (WC)


Radiologic features
Features Benign Malignant
Bone changes sclerotic rim tumour perforation
Circumscription pushing margins ill-defined/moth-eaten
Soft tissue involvement no common
Periosteal reaction no "hair-on-end" or "sunburst",
"onion skin", Codman's triangle
Diagnosis Epiphysis Metaphysis Diaphysis Type of lesion
Aneurysmal bone cyst common most common rare bone
Chondroblastoma most common rare extremely rare cartilage
Chondrosarcoma uncommon common most common cartilage
Chondromyxoid fibroma rare most common common other
Enchondroma rare common common cartilage
Ewing sarcoma rare common most common bone
Giant cell tumour most common rare extremely rare bone
Metastatic carcinoma rare common most common other
Non-ossifying fibroma extremely rare most common common other
Osteoblastoma rare most common uncommon bone
Osteochondroma extremely rare[citation needed] most common common bone/cartilage
Osteoid osteoma uncommon common common[6] bone
Osteosarcoma rare most common uncommon bone

How to remember the primary bone lesions:

  1. Ewing sarcoma is the only malignant primary bone tumour of the diaphysis.
  2. Giant cell tumour of bone is the only primary bone lesion of the epiphysis.
  3. The rest of the primary bone lesions are metaphyseal.
    • Osteochondroma is bone first and cartilage second. It behaves like most primary bone lesions; it is usually metaphyseal.

How to remember the primary cartilaginous lesions:

  1. Chondroblastoma is epiphyseal. The chicken wire goes around the chicken coop.
  2. The others are diaphyseal.




Chondromyxoid fibroma




Osteoid osteoma


Ewing sarcoma


Giant cell tumour of bone


This section collects stuff that doesn't neatly fit into the bone or cartilage category.

Notochordal tumors

Notochordal tumors arise from notochordal remnants and thus are seen in the clivus or sacrum.


Diffuse tenosynovial giant-cell tumour

  • AKA tenosynovial giant-cell tumour, diffuse type.
  • Previously known as pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS).[7]

Giant cell tumour of tendon sheath

  • Abbreviated GCT of tendon sheath.


Brown tumour


  • Not a true neoplasm.[8]
    • If tumour is understood as a synonym for neoplasm, the name is a misnomer.
    • May (clinically) mimic a true neoplasm.
  • Due to hyperparathyroidism - usually parathyroid adenoma.
    • Usually secondary to chronic renal failure.

Hypercalcemia DDx

Mnemonic GRIMED:[9]



  • Fibrosis.
  • +/-Giant cells with round to oval nuclei and nucleoli.[10]
  • Bone unaffected by tumour - increased numbers of the following:
    • Multinucleated cells (osteoclasts).
    • Mononuclear cells around the bony trabeculae (osteoblasts).




See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Humphrey, Peter A; Dehner, Louis P; Pfeifer, John D (2008). The Washington Manual of Surgical Pathology (1st ed.). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 632. ISBN 978-0781765275.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Yeung, J.C.; Leonard, Blair J. N. (2005). The Toronto Notes 2005 - Review for the MCCQE and Comprehensive Medical Reference (2005 ed.). The Toronto Notes Inc. for Medical Students Inc.. pp. OR42. ISBN 978-0968592854.
  3. Yeung, J.C.; Leonard, Blair J. N. (2005). The Toronto Notes 2005 - Review for the MCCQE and Comprehensive Medical Reference (2005 ed.). The Toronto Notes Inc. for Medical Students Inc.. pp. OR41. ISBN 978-0968592854.
  4. URL:
  5. 5.0 5.1 Yalcinkaya, U.; Doganavsargil, B.; Sezak, M.; Kececi, B.; Argin, M.; Basdemir, G.; Oztop, F. (Dec 2014). "Clinical and morphological characteristics of osteoid osteoma and osteoblastoma: a retrospective single-center analysis of 204 patients.". Ann Diagn Pathol 18 (6): 319-25. doi:10.1016/j.anndiagpath.2014.08.006. PMID 25224389.
  6. URL: Accessed on: 7 May 2012
  7. Kumar, Vinay; Abbas, Abul K.; Fausto, Nelson; Aster, Jon (2009). Robbins and Cotran pathologic basis of disease (8th ed.). Elsevier Saunders. pp. 1247. ISBN 978-1416031215.
  8. Meydan N, Barutca S, Guney E, et al. (June 2006). "Brown tumors mimicking bone metastases". J Natl Med Assoc 98 (6): 950–3. PMC 2569361. PMID 16775919.
  9. Shiau, Carolyn; Toren, Andrew (2006). Toronto Notes 2006: Comprehensive Medical Reference (Review for MCCQE 1 and USMLE Step 2) (22nd edition (2006) ed.). Toronto Notes for Medical Students, Inc.. pp. Emerg.. ISBN 978-0968592861.
  10. URL: Accessed on: 6 January 2012.

External links