Bone Tumors of the Foot and Ankle

Unfortunately, just like in the rest of the body, the foot and ankle can also be the location of various types of tumors. However, bone tumors in the foot and ankle are relatively rare in comparison to other parts of the body, but there is still the risk. Men are much more likely than women, to have a bone tumor in the foot or ankle, but the reason for this is unknown. In addition, age, location, and symptoms vary between the various bone tumors.  As well as whether the tumor is malignant or benign. Malignant means that the tumor is cancerous and is able to cause harm and possibly spread to other areas of the body. Benign means that it is not cancerous and will usually not harm the body or spread.

This will be a brief overview of various bone tumors that are more common to the lower extremity rather than other areas of the body.

Malignant tumors

  • Osteosarcoma: 85% of patients will be under 30 years of age, but it will be most common in men ages 15-25 years old. This tumor is most common in the area of the knee and it is rarely located in the foot bones; the frequency for finding this tumor in the foot bones is about 2%.  Symptoms include: swelling, stiffness, and bone pain, especially at night or during exercise. This tumor will most commonly spread to the lungs. Due to this tumor being malignant, treatment will include chemotherapy.
  • Ewing’s sarcoma: This is usually a tumor that is more common in children and most patients will have it diagnosed before 20 years of age. The most common site for this tumor is in the longest bone of the lower extremity, which is the femur. However, it can be found in other bones throughout the body, although, Ewing’s sarcoma is four times more likely to be found in the foot bones compared to the hand bones. Symptoms include weight loss, fever, and pain. Since this is a malignant tumor, treatment will include chemotherapy.

Benign tumors

  • Neuroma: This pathology has been addressed in a previous blog, but to quickly review, a neuroma is the thickening of a nerve. This is more common in females and is possibly due to their shoe gear. The most common location of a neuroma is between the third and fourth toe. Neuromas can cause a burning-like pain in the ball of the foot and give the sensation of a  “click” when walking. Neuromas can be treated with conservative treatment or be removed surgically.
  • Ganglion Cyst: This cyst is most often found in males and females between the ages of 25-45 years old. Ganglion cysts can form almost anywhere in the body, but 9 percent of cases are found in the foot or ankle. Ganglion cysts can be painful for some patients, but other patient will not have pain. If a ganglion cyst is not causing pain, it still may be bothersome to people due to it usually ranging 1-3 inches in diameter, which will result in a bump under the skin. Ganglion cysts can be removed surgically.

These are only a couple of the malignant and benign tumors that can be found in the lower extremity. Like previously mentioned, tumors in this area are relatively rare, especially tumors that are malignant. Podiatrists will be able to treat benign tumors, but will refer you to an oncologist for treatment of malignant tumors.

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