Primary Bone Cancer: Your Chances for Recovery (Prognosis)

Primary Bone Cancer: Your Chances for Recovery (Prognosis)

June 12, 2018

Primary Bone Cancer: Your Chances for Recovery (Prognosis)

What is a prognosis?

Prognosis is the word your healthcare team may use to describe your likely outcome from cancer and cancer treatment. A prognosis is a calculated guess. It’s a question many people have when they learn they have cancer.

Making a choice

The decision to ask about your prognosis is a personal one. It’s up to you to decide how much you want to know. Some people find it easier to cope and plan ahead when they know their prognosis and the statistics for how well a treatment might work. Other people find statistics confusing and frightening. Or they might think statistics are too general to be useful.

A healthcare provider who is most familiar with your health is in the best position to discuss your prognosis with you and explain what the statistics may mean in your case. At the same time, it is important to remember that your prognosis can change. Cancer and cancer treatment outcomes are hard to predict. For instance, a favorable prognosis (which means you’re likely going to do well) can change if the cancer spreads to key organs or doesn’t respond to treatment. An unfavorable prognosis can change, too. This can happen if treatment shrinks and controls the cancer so it doesn’t grow or spread.

What goes into a prognosis

When figuring out your prognosis, your healthcare provider will look at all the things that could affect the cancer and its treatment. Your prognosis depends mainly on:

  • The type and location of the cancer

  • The stage and grade of the cancer

  • Your overall health

  • Your treatment decisions

  • How well your cancer responds to treatment

Your healthcare provider will also look at risk estimates about the exact type and stage of the cancer you have. These estimates are based on what results researchers have seen over many years in other people with the same type and stage of cancer.

If your cancer is likely to respond well to treatment, your healthcare provider will say you have a favorable prognosis. This means you’re expected to live many years and may even be cured. If your cancer is likely to be hard to control, your prognosis may be less favorable. The cancer may shorten your life. It’s important to keep in mind that a prognosis states what’s likely or probable. It is not a prediction of what will definitely happen. No healthcare provider can be fully sure about an outcome.

Understanding survival rates

Survival rates show how many people live for a certain length of time after being told they have cancer. The rates are grouped for people with certain types and stages of cancer. Many times, the numbers used refer to the 5-year or the 10-year survival rate. That’s how many people are living 5 years or 10 years after being diagnosed. The survival rate includes:

  • People who are cancer-free

  • People who have few or no signs or symptoms of cancer

  • People who are getting cancer treatment

What are the survival rates for primary bone cancer?

The chance of recovery for bone cancers has improved in recent years because of new and better treatments. Here are the 5-year survival rates for some of the more common bone cancers:

  • For all  adult bone cancers combined, the 5-year survival rate is about 70 percent. However, this varies by cancer type and stage.

  • For osteosarcomas and Ewing sarcomas that are still in the area where they started (localized), the 5-year survival rate is about 60 to 80 percent. If the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, the 5-year survival rate is about 15 to 30 percent. But if it has spread only to the lungs, the 5-year survival rate is slightly better.

  • For adult chondrosarcomas, the 5-year survival rate is about 80 percent. 

Talk with your healthcare provider

Talk with your healthcare provider about survival rates and what you might expect. But remember that statistics are based on large groups of people. They can’t be used to say what will happen to you. No two people are exactly alike. Treatment and how well cancers respond to treatment vary.


June 12, 2018

Reviewed By:  

LoCicero, Richard, MD,Stump-Sutliff, Kim, RN, MSN, AOCNS