Childhood bone

You are here: 

Staging childhood bone cancer

Staging is a way of describing or classifying a cancer based on the extent of the cancer, or where it is in the body. Doctors may use the simple staging system or the Enneking staging system. The child’s healthcare team uses the stage to plan treatment and estimate prognosis.

Simple childhood bone staging descriptions

Doctors often use a simple system to stage childhood bone cancer. It groups bone cancers as localized and metastatic.

Localized bone cancer is only in the bone that it started in and tissues next to the bone, such as muscle, tendons or fat.

Metastatic bone cancer has spread to other parts of the body farther from the original tumour. For example, it may have spread to the lungs or other bones not directly connected to the bone where the tumour started. The most common place for bone cancer to spread to is the lungs.

Enneking staging system descriptions

The Enneking staging system is another staging system used for osteosarcoma. It may also be called the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society, or MSTS, staging system. It is based on the grade of the tumour, whether or not the tumour has grown through the wall of the bone and whether or not it has spread. Because all cancerous bone tumours in children are high grade, it is never diagnosed as stage I.

Stage IIA

The cancer is high grade and is only inside the bone.

Stage IIB

The cancer is high grade and has grown though the bone wall into other nearby structures. Most osteosarcomas are diagnosed as this stage.

Stage III

The cancer is either inside the bone or grown through the bone into nearby structures. The cancer has spread to other parts of the body or to other bones far away from where the cancer started.

Recurrent bone cancer

Recurrent bone cancer means that the cancer has come back after it has been treated. If it comes back in the same place that the cancer first started, it’s called local recurrence. If it comes back in tissues or lymph nodes close to the primary tumour, it’s called regional recurrence. It can also recur in another part of the body, which is called metastatic bone cancer.


Dr Guy Sauvageau Progress in leukemias

Read more

Funding world-class research

Icon - paper

Cancer affects all Canadians but together we can reduce the burden by investing in research and prevention efforts. Learn about the impact of our funded research.

Learn more