Giant Cell Tumors: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment (2024)

What is a giant cell tumor?

A giant cell tumor (GCT) is a type of noncancerous (benign) growth (tumor). GCTs aren’t cancer, so they don’t usually spread to other parts of your body; although very rarely, they can spread to your lungs. But they may grow quickly and damage surrounding tissues, as they’re considered a locally aggressive tumor.

You may have a giant cell tumor at the end of one of your bones. These tumors often grow near your knee, either at the bottom of your thigh (femur) or the top of your shin (tibia). GCTs that grow in the soft tissues are called tenosynovial giant cell tumor (TGCT). TGCTs are also locally aggressive, but they’re even less likely to spread than GCTs.

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Is a giant cell tumor a sarcoma?

No. Both giant cell tumors and sarcomas are growths in your bones or soft tissues. Sarcomas are cancer, and GCTs aren’t.

Where do giant cell tumors get their name?

Giant cell tumors get their name because of how they look under a microscope. When viewed up close, giant cell tumors look like clusters of irregularly large cells.

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Who might get a giant cell tumor?

GCTs of the bone are slightly more common in women. Younger people are also more likely to get giant cell tumors:

  • More than 1 in 2 people with a bone GCT are in their 30s or 40s.
  • Most people with a tenosynovial GCT are ages 25 to 50.

How common are giant cell tumors?

Giant cell tumors are rare. Experts estimate that each year about:

  • 1 in 1 million people get giant cell tumors of bone.
  • 43 in 1 million people get tenosynovial giant cell tumors.
Giant Cell Tumors: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment (2024)

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