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Benign Bone Tumor

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What do I need to know about a benign bone tumor?

A benign bone tumor may start in the bone or in the cartilage at the end of the bone. Benign means the tumor is not cancer and cannot spread. Some benign bone tumors can change and become cancer. A benign tumor may grow large enough to cause problems with movement or with organ function. A tumor can also weaken the bone and cause it to fracture easily. Your risk for a benign bone tumor is increased if you have a family history of bone tumors.

What are the signs and symptoms of a benign bone tumor?

You may be able to feel a hard mass or cyst. You may have bone pain that is dull or achy, or that wakes you at night. You may break a bone easily. A tumor that is near a joint may cause the joint to become stiff. You may have numbness or tingling if the tumor is pressing on nerves. Some benign bone tumors do not cause any signs or symptoms.

How is a benign bone tumor diagnosed?

A bone tumor may be found during an x-ray for another problem, such as an injured ankle.

  • An x-ray may be used to check the bone. A benign bone tumor may create holes in your bone, or it may make extra bone grow. Your doctor will check for these signs and for how much of the bone is affected by the tumor. Some benign bone tumors can deform the bone.
  • A CT or MRI may be used to find the kind of tumor you have. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • A biopsy is a procedure used to take a sample of the tumor to be tested.

How is a benign bone tumor treated?

A benign tumor may disappear without treatment. This is more common in children than in adults. You may need any of the following:

  • Surgery may be used to remove the tumor so it does not become malignant or spread. Tumor removal can also help protect the bone from fracturing. You may need bone graft surgery to replace bone that is removed with the tumor.
  • Radiofrequency ablation is a procedure that uses heat to destroy the tumor.
  • Pain medicine may be prescribed or recommended by your healthcare provider. Ask how to take this medicine safely.

What can I do to manage a benign bone tumor?

  • Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed. You may need to come back to have the tumor checked over time. Your provider will check the size of the tumor and may test it to make sure it has not become cancer.
  • Ask about activity. Ask when you may exercise and which exercises are best for you. Your healthcare provider may recommend weight-bearing exercises, such as brisk walking, dancing, or yoga. Weight-bearing exercises help build or maintain bone. Weightlifting also helps strengthen bones and build muscle. Extra muscle can help protect your bones. Your healthcare provider may recommend weightlifting 3 times per week as part of your exercise routine.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and fish. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you get more calcium and vitamin D to help strengthen your bones.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking increases your risk for cancer. Smoking can also increase your risk for bone fractures and delay healing. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting.
  • Limit or do not drink alcohol as directed. Alcohol increases your risk for cancer. Limit alcohol to 2 drinks per day if you are a man. Limit alcohol to 1 drink per day if you are a woman. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
  • Drink liquids as directed. You may need to drink more liquid than usual. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have no feeling in or near the area of the tumor.
  • You are unable to move the limb that has the tumor.
  • You have severe pain.
  • Your bone breaks.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You feel new or larger tumors.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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