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An enchondroma is a type of noncancerous bone tumor that begins in cartilage. Cartilage is the specialized, gristly connective tissue from which most bones develop. Cartilage plays an important role in the growth process. There are many different types of cartilage in the body. An enchondroma most often affects the cartilage that lines the inside of the bones. It often affects the tiny long bones of the hands and feet. It may also affect other bones such as the femur (thighbone), humerus (upper arm bone), or tibia (one of the two lower leg bones).
An enchondroma may occur as one or several tumors. The conditions that involve multiple tumors include the following:
Enchondromas are the most common type of hand tumor. While it may affect a person at any age, it is most common between the ages of 10 and 20 years. It affects men and women equally.
While the exact cause of enchondroma is not known, it is thought to occur either as an overgrowth of the cartilage that lines the ends of the bones, or as a persistent growth of original, embryonic cartilage.
With an enchondroma, you may have no symptoms at all. The following are the most common symptoms of an enchondroma. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of enchondroma may look like other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
Because you may have few symptoms, diagnosis is sometimes made during a routine physical exam, or if the tumor leads to a fracture in the hand.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, tests may include:
Specific treatment for enchondroma will be determined by your doctor based on:
Treatment may include:
If there is no sign of bone weakening or growth of the tumor, your doctor may simply keep close watch on the condition. However, follow-up with repeat X-rays may be needed. Some types of enchondromas can develop into cancerous bone tumors later. Careful follow-up with a doctor is often recommended.
An enchondroma is a type of benign (noncancerous) bone tumor that originates from cartilage. An enchondroma most often affects the cartilage that lines the inside of the bones.
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