Most chondromas are diagnosed by accident when the patient is having x-rays or scans for something completely unrelated. The tumor causes that area of the bone to appear different on many tests and this makes doctors look further. The bone is also sometimes made thinner by the tumor.
Occasionally a routine medical exam will result in finding a lump that eventually leads to diagnosis. If chondroma are suspected physicians will take a complete medical history in addition to the physical exam. They will then perform one or several imaging tests to gather as much information as possible about the tumor.
Chondroma is sometimes misdiagnosed as extra skeletal myxoid chondrosarcoma. It is important to get a proper diagnosis so the most effective plan of treatment can be put into place.
Testing for Chondroma
Scanning and imaging tests help doctors more clearly diagnose chondroma and further determine the extent of the tumor. Chondromas have certain characteristics on imaging tests.
MRI and CAT scans can give doctors more information about the size, depth and stage of the tumor. Bone scans are often performed to check for fractures or infection in the area. An accurate diagnosis is critical in determining the best option for treatment.
Doctors consider many factors when deciding on a treatment plan for patients with chondroma. These include the age of the patient, their overall health, and how the tumor is expected to grow and progress. Also, whether or not the patient is experiencing symptoms is a major consideration.
Chemotherapy and radiation treatments are not effective treatment options for chondroma. Either the tumor has progressed enough and is causing problems, or it is not causing any problems and can stay right where it is.
The two main types of treatment for chondroma are surgery and “watchful waiting.”
Surgery is the first line of defense for tumors that are interfering with surrounding healthy tissues. Complete removal of the tumor, along with a margin of surrounding healthy tissue, has shown to be most effective in cases where surgery is needed. Skin grafts can be used to fill in the areas that are removed. With removal of a small amount of surrounding tissue the chances of the tumor returning is less than 10%.