What is Mesenchymal Chondrosarcoma?

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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 14 August 2019
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Mesenchymal chondrosarcoma is a malignant cancer of the cartilage, that tends to grow and spread more quickly than other similar tumors. It occurs in children and young adults considerably more often than in older people, though it is a very rare type of cancer overall. Mesenchymal chondrosarcoma tends to appear more commonly in young people because their bones are still forming and they have cartilage that has not yet mineralized into bone. In younger patients mesenchymal chondrosarcoma tends to appear in extraskeletal locations while in older patients it usually appears in skeletal tissue.

The symptoms of mesenchymal chondrosarcoma resemble those of many other illnesses and disorders, which can easily lead to a false initial diagnosis. In fact, mesenchymal chondrosarcoma is seldom the first illness that doctors consider when presented with symptoms that match the rare cancer. It tends to present with swelling in pain and can occur in nearly any part of the body, though limbs and extremities are the most common. If the tumor causes pain and swelling in the specific part of the body where it is located, it can generally be diagnosed without too much difficulty, though other possibilities will usually be tested first. Sometimes, though, especially when the tumor is near the spine, it can cause pain throughout the body, making its source very difficult to identify.


Mesenchymal chondrosarcoma tends to be particularly troublesome when it does appear near the spine. This is referred to as parameningeal presentation. Depending on the size of the tumor, it may place significant pressure on the spine and cause pain and partial paralysis. Such a tumor could also present in the skull and cause similar neurological problems.

Like many other tumors, mesenchymal chondrosarcoma may metastasize through the blood and attack other organs within the body. It often tends to spread to the lungs, though it may spread to other locations as well. In general, patients will notice symptoms of the original tumor before any metastasis has taken place, giving them time to seek appropriate treatment.

Assuming that the tumor can be removed without causing much damage to other organs or tissues, surgical resection is the ideal method of treating mesenchymal chondrosarcoma. Surgery is often followed up with chemotherapy and radiation to ensure that no cancerous cells are allowed to survive, grow, and spread again. When the tumor is in an inoperable location, sometimes radiation and chemotherapy can be used to shrink the tumor enough to allow for safe operation.


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