Survival for bone cancer

Survival depends on different factors. So no one can tell you exactly how long you will live.

Doctors usually work out the outlook for a certain disease by looking at large groups of people. Because this cancer is less common, survival is harder to estimate than for other, more common cancers.

Some of the statistics have to be based on a small number of people. Remember, they can't tell you what will happen in your individual case.

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis).

You can also talk about this to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Primary and secondary bone cancer

Primary bone cancer starts in the cells of the bones. The cancer cells are bone cells that have become cancerous.

Most people who have cancer cells in their bones don't have primary bone cancer. They have cancer cells that have spread into the bone from a cancer elsewhere in the body. This is called secondary or metastatic bone cancer. So, for example, in breast cancer that has spread to the bones, the cancer cells in the bones will be breast cancer cells.

All types of primary bone cancer

Generally, for people with primary bone cancer in England:

  • almost 75 out of 100 people (almost 75%) survive their cancer for 1 year or more
  • more than 50 out of 100 people (more than 50%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more

Survival for different types of primary bone cancer

The statistics below are for bone cancers diagnosed in England between 1985 and 2004. They come from the National Cancer Intelligence Network. This is the most recent data we have. As these statistics are over 15 years old, survival is likely to have improved in line with the trend for all cancers combined in England.

We have information about: 

  • osteosarcoma
  • chondrosarcoma
  • Ewing sarcoma
  • chordoma

Please remember that these statistics are for everybody diagnosed with each type of cancer. The figures do not take into account other factors that affect your survival, such as the stage and grade of your cancer, your age, where the cancer is, or how well chemotherapy works. Your doctor can tell you more about your own outlook.

Osteosarcoma

Around 40 out of 100 people (around 40%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Chondrosarcoma

Almost 70 out of 100 people (almost 70%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Survival is better for people with chondrosarcoma starting in the arms or legs than for those with chondrosarcoma in the spine (vertebral) and hip (pelvic) bones.

Ewing sarcoma

Around 50 out of 100 people (around 50%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Survival is better for people with Ewing sarcoma starting in the arms or legs than for those with Ewing sarcoma in the main part of the body.

Chordoma

Around 55 out of 100 people (around 55%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

What affects survival

Your outlook depends on the stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed. This means how big it is and whether it has spread.

Survival is also affected by where the cancer is in your body.

If you have chemotherapy before surgery, the doctors will look at your tumour to see how well it has responded to chemotherapy. If you have a good response your outlook is better.

About these statistics

The terms 1 year survival and 5 year survival don't mean that you will only live for 1 or 5 years. Some people live much longer than 5 years.

More statistics

Last reviewed: 
05 Oct 2021
Next review due: 
07 Oct 2024
  • Net survival and the probability of cancer death from rare cancers.
    P Muller and others
    Cancer Research UK Cancer Survival Group, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

  • Bone sarcoma: incidence and survival rates in England
    National Cancer Intelligence Network, 2012
    Accessed April 2021

  • Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology (11th edition)

    VT De Vita, TS Lawrence and SA Rosenberg

    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2019

  • Bone sarcoma survival statistics
    Cancer Research UK, https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/s...

    Accessed April 2021

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