Bone and soft tissue cancers

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Bone and soft tissue cancers

What are bone and soft tissue cancers? They include a group of rare cancers affecting the body’s bones and tissues that connect, support and surround other body structures and organs.


Bone Cancer

There are two types of bone cancer (also known as bone sarcoma):

  • Primary bone cancer: cancer that begins in the bone or cartilage,
  • Secondary bone cancer: cancer that has started in another part of the body and has spread (metastasised) to the bone.

Sarcoma occurs when abnormal cells in these types of tissue grow in an uncontrolled way. It can develop in any part of the body.

There are more than 30 types of primary bone cancer. The three most common are Ewing sarcoma, Chondrosarcoma, and Osteosarcoma. Bone cancer is the sixth most common cancer affecting rangatahi in Aotearoa (Source: AYA Network).

Survival rates for rangatahi impacted by bone cancer are on the rise, most attributed to the survival gains for Ewing sarcoma.

There are other less common types of bone cancer, including chordoma and spindle cell sarcoma.

Rangatahi impacted by bone cancer or soft tissue cancer reflecting


Soft Tissue Cancer

Soft tissues encompass the supportive tissues within the body, excluding bones. These tissues comprise fat, muscle, nerves, tendons, blood vessels, and the synovial lining of joints.

Soft tissue cancer, referred to as soft tissue sarcoma, develops within any of these tissues.

There are more than 50 types of soft tissue sarcoma. The most common types diagnosed in rangatahi are:

  • Rhabdomyosarcoma, which usually forms in muscle cells
  • Synovial sarcoma, which develops in cells around joints and tendons
  • Ewing sarcoma, which may start in the soft tissue or bone.


Disclosure: The information provided in this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice.  Consult a qualified medical professional or your healthcare provider if your are seeking medical advice.



Finding out that you or a member of your whānau is dealing with a bone or soft tissue cancer can be extremely challenging, especially for rangatahi. Being diagnosed with a bone or soft tissue cancer can lead to various challenges and difficulties in life.

Cancer affects everyone differently. That’s why Canteen provides a wide range of free support services to help rangatahi manage the specific challenges they’re dealing with. Canteen services and events can help you find ways to cope with what life looks like now you are facing these unexpected challenges.

You can talk to one of our specialist clinical team about the impacts of cancer on your life. This can be either in person, over the phone, or online. Rangatahi can also connect online 24/7 with peers who understand what you’re going through.

Visit the Cancer Control Agency website for more information about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of bladder cancer, or speak to your Adolescent & Young Adult (AYA) key worker at hospital.

Support Canteen. Change lives.

Learn more about Canteen and the ways you can support rangatahi impacted by cancer.