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Staging bone cancer


The test results will help show where the cancer is and if it has spread. This is called staging. Knowing the stage helps your doctors plan your treatment.

Grades of primary bone cancer

Grading describes how quickly a cancer might grow. In general, the lower the grade, the better the prognosis.

low gradeThe cancer cells look like normal cells. They usually grow slowly and are less likely to spread.
high gradeThe cancer cells look very abnormal. They grow quickly and are more likely to spread.

Stages of primary bone cancer

Many cancers are staged using a system that divides them into 4 stages. But bone cancer is different. It is usually divided into localised or advanced. Ask your doctor to explain the stage of cancer to you.

localisedThe cancer contains low-grade cells; found in the bone in which it started. It can be removed by surgery (resectable) or not removed completely (non-resectable).
advanced (metastatic)The cancer is any grade and has spread to other parts of the body (e.g. the lungs).

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This information is reviewed by

This information was last reviewed January 2023 by the following expert content reviewers: Prof Peter Choong AO, Orthopaedic Surgeon, and Sir Hugh Devine Professor, St Vincent’s Hospital, and Head of Department of Surgery, The University of Melbourne, VIC; Catherine Chapman, Adolescent and Young Adult and Sarcoma Cancer Specialist Nurse, Division of Cancer and Ambulatory Support, Canberra Hospital, ACT; A/Prof Paul Craft AM, Medical Oncologist, Canberra Hospital and Australian National University, ACT; Belinda Fowlie, Bone Tumour Nurse Practitioner Candidate, SA Bone and Soft Tissue Tumour Unit, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Prof Angela Hong, Radiation Oncologist, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, and Clinical Professor, The University of Sydney, NSW; Vicki Moss, Nurse Practitioner, SA Bone and Soft Tissue Tumour Unit, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; A/Prof and Dr Marianne Phillips, Paediatric and Adolescent Oncologist and Palliative Care Physician, Perth Children’s Hospital, WA; Chris Sibthorpe, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland; Stephanie Webster, Consumer.