Giant Cell Tumor

A giant cell tumor is a non-cancerous tumor that forms when small cells merge into larger ones.

It usually occurs in the ends of long bones like the femur (thigh), tibia (shin bone), and distal radius (forearm), but sometimes they develop in the lower end of the spinal cord. Although these tumors are non-cancerous, they can cause damage to healthy tissue and have the potential to cause fractures.


The cause of giant cell tumors is unknown.


Common signs and symptoms of giant cell tumors are:

  • Joint pain

  • Muscle atrophy

  • Tender hard mass or visible bump

  • Decreased range of motion in the affected joint

  • Elevated temperature of the overlying skin


To determine if your child has a giant cell tumor, your specialized doctor may perform a number of tests including:

  • Imaging tests such as X-rays, MRIs, CT scans or bone scans

  • Complete blood count test

  • Biopsy


Treatment for giant cell tumors requires 1 or a combination of surgeries. Your doctor will determine which procedures will lead to the best outcomes for your child based on your child’s age, overall health, location of the tumor and other factors.

See more information

Bone Tumors