Giant Cell Tumor of Bone and Soft Tissue

Also called: Giant cell tumor of the bone, osteoclastoma, soft tissue giant cell tumor, giant cell tumor of the tendon sheath, tenosynovial giant cell tumor, diffuse tenosynovial giant cell tumor, nodular tenosynovitis

What are giant cell tumors?

Giant cell tumors are rare tumors that develop when many benign (noncancerous) cells group together and form a large mass. The concern with giant cell tumors is that they can spread to other areas of the body and become cancerous tumors.

Giant cell tumors usually form in bones and are most often found in the knee. They can also develop in leg and arm bones, the breastbone and the pelvis.

Giant cell tumors may also be found in the soft tissue surrounding joints, usually forming in the hands and fingers. These tumors are called giant cell tumors of the tendon sheath.

How common are giant cell tumors?

Giant cell tumors of the bone are rare, and no statistics are available about how often they occur in children.

Giant cell tumors of the tendon sheath are somewhat common in adults but are rarely found in children.

What are the signs and symptoms of giant cell tumors?

The most common symptoms of giant cell tumors of the bone include the following:

  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Trouble moving the joint
  • Lump at tumor site
  • Broken bone

Giant cell tumors of the tendon sheath often do not cause pain at first. As the tumor grows larger, symptoms may include the following:

  • Lump at the tumor site
  • Swelling and pain

How are giant cell tumors treated?

The standard treatment for giant cell tumors typically includes surgery (to remove as much of the tumor as possible) and bone reconstruction, if needed.

If a tumor cannot be removed through surgery, newer drugs such as denosumab are being used. Radiation therapy can be used in cases when surgery is not advised or is not possible.

Since giant cell tumors can spread to other areas of the body such as a lung, it is important to start treatment as quickly as possible. Giant cell tumors can also return after treatment, so patients should have regular checkups.

What are the survival rates for giant cell tumors?

With proper treatment, many children with giant cell tumors can be cured of their disease.

Why choose St. Jude for your child’s giant cell tumor treatment?

  • St. Jude surgeons are leaders in cancer and tumor treatment research. They have found new ways to remove tumors with the fewest negative effects for your child.
  • Treatment for most giant cell tumors starts with surgery. Successfully operating on your child’s growing body requires an expertise and experience that you will find at St. Jude.
  • St. Jude surgeons specialize in limb-sparing surgery for giant cell tumors and techniques that encourage healthy tissue and bones to grow. The St. Jude team has also pioneered new imaging techniques to understand how giant cell tumors respond to treatment and to carefully monitor your child.
  • When it comes to performing complex surgeries and treating rare forms of childhood cancers and tumors, experience matters. The expert skills of St. Jude specialty surgeons can help improve your child’s chances of a cure by successfully removing a giant cell tumor and reducing the risk of the tumor returning. 

The St. Jude Web site is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through this site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.