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Counties Manukau Health Orthopaedics

Public Service

Orthopaedic Tumour Service

The Orthopaedic Tumour Service investigates, diagnoses and treats tumours which occur in bone and soft tissues (e.g. muscle, fat).
Radiologists, pathologists and surgeons work together to identify the type of tumour.
Imaging studies such as MRI scan, CT scan and bone scan may be done.
If no diagnosis can be made by looking at the scans, then an operation to remove a piece of the tumour (open biopsy) so it can be studied under the microscope, is done.

What is a tumour?
Tumours develop when cell reproduction becomes erratic and produces abnormal cells which clump together to form a mass.  A tumour is a cluster of abnormal cells.

If a tumour is malignant (i.e. cancerous) radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy may be required, as well as surgery.

What is a benign tumour?
A benign tumour doesn’t invade the structures around it and it does not spread to other parts of the body.  Examples of a benign tumour are a ganglion, schwannoma and lipoma.

Benign tumours may be surgically removed, if they are large or are causing symptoms. If they are not causing problems then they may just be observed for a period of time to ensure they do not change.

What is a malignant tumour?
A malignant or cancerous tumour invades the structures around it and can spread to other parts of the body through the blood stream and lymphatic circulation.  A sarcoma is a primary malignant tumour occurring in bone, muscle or fat.  Sarcomas are very rare, making up only 1% of all the cancers diagnosed.  Osteosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, liposarcoma and synovial sarcoma are some of the sarcomas which can occur. 

This page was last updated at 10:14AM on May 6, 2020.