The symptoms of bone tumors can be similar to those of other bone diseases. Getting an accurate diagnosis is critical to match you with the most effective therapy. NewYork-Presbyterian's specialists provide a full range of diagnostic tests and treatments for benign and malignant bone tumors.

How are Bone Tumors Diagnosed?


Your doctor will conduct an examination and order a variety of tests to see if you have a bone tumor and to determine its type. The physician will ask you about your symptoms, personal medical history, and your family medical history. Tests used to diagnose bone tumors include:

Physical examination

During the physical exam, your doctor will look for swelling or tenderness and see if your symptoms are causing any changes in the way you move.

Imaging tests

X-rays, CT scanning, and MRI scanning can show the presence of a bone tumor, including its size and location. Your doctor will let you know which tests you may need.

Tumor biopsy

A biopsy is performed to retrieve a tissue sample for examination by a pathologist to determine the type of tumor. A doctor may remove the tissue through a needle or during an outpatient surgical procedure.

Bone Tumor Treatments


Your care team will use the results of your diagnostic testing to put together a treatment plan to meet your needs. Your bone tumor treatment will depend on your tumor's type, location, and stage.

Benign bone tumor treatments

Some benign bone tumors may not need treatment but will be monitored by your doctor. Sometimes a benign bone tumor will go away by itself. If you do need treatment, you may receive medication. A doctor may perform surgery to remove the tumor or reduce your risk of a fracture or disability.

Bone cancer treatment

Malignant bone tumors typically require a multi-pronged treatment approach that combines medication, radiation therapy, and/or surgery to treat the tumor and reduce the risk of cancer spread or recurrence.

At NewYork-Presbyterian, we perform genetic analysis of your tumor to identify the molecules driving its growth and match you with chemotherapy drugs that target those molecules. We give chemotherapy in our modern infusion suites, which are staffed by oncology nurses with the skill, compassion, and experience to monitor you during treatment and ensure you are comfortable. You may also have the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial of a promising new therapy.

If surgery is part of your treatment plan, we'll speak with you about your options and customize an approach that works best for you, bringing in any experts you need to achieve the best outcome.

  • Chemotherapy – Some bone cancers may be challenging to remove surgically. We sometimes give chemotherapy for several months before surgery to shrink a bone tumor and make it operable. This approach is called "neoadjuvant chemotherapy."
  • Limb-sparing surgery –  About 90% of people with bone tumors in the arms or legs are candidates for limb-sparing surgery. NewYork-Presbyterian's cancer surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, and reconstructive surgeons are experts in these complex procedures and collaborate to perform these innovative operations to save an arm or leg.
  • Reconstructive surgery – If you need surgery for bone cancer, you may be concerned that removing the tumor will affect your ability to use the affected arm or leg. At NewYork-Presbyterian, your team includes reconstructive surgeons who offer the latest techniques and tools to restore limb function. These include allografts (the use of donated bone tissue to replace removed bone) and metal prostheses (rods inserted where the bone was removed, including newer expandable prostheses for children).
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Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Bone Tumor Treatment

Bone tumors, especially bone cancers, can be challenging to treat successfully. The best care is provided at comprehensive cancer centers such as Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia.

Our orthopedic oncologists and orthopedic and reconstructive surgeons work with medical and radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, oncology nurses, social workers, physical therapists, and others to ensure that you receive top-tier care. They combine their skills and experience to customize a treatment plan to control the cancer while preserving your form and function—avoiding amputation whenever possible and offering reconstructive surgery to restore limb function after a tumor is removed.