Survival Rates for Osteosarcoma

Survival rates can give you an idea of what percentage of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive a certain amount of time (usually 5 years) after they were diagnosed. They can’t tell you how long a person will live, but they may help give you a better understanding of how likely it is that treatment will be successful.

Keep in mind that survival rates are estimates and are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had a specific cancer, but they can’t predict what will happen in any particular person’s case. These statistics can be confusing and may lead you to have more questions. Talk with your doctor about how these numbers may apply to you (or your child), as he or she is familiar with your situation.

What is a 5-year relative survival rate?

A relative survival rate compares people with the same type and stage of cancer to people in the overall population. For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific stage of osteosarcoma is 70%, it means that people who have that cancer are, on average, about 70% as likely as people who don’t have that cancer to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.

Where do these numbers come from?

The American Cancer Society relies on information from the SEER* database, maintained by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), to provide survival statistics for different types of cancer.

The SEER database tracks 5-year relative survival rates for osteosarcoma in the United States, based on how far the cancer has spread. The SEER database, however, does not group cancers by MSTS or TNM stages (stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, etc.). Instead, it groups cancers into localized, regional, and distant stages:

  • Localized: There is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the bone where it started.
  • Regional: The cancer has spread outside the bone and into nearby structures, or it has reached nearby lymph nodes.
  • Distant: The cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, such as to the lungs or to bones in other parts of the body.

Osteosarcoma 5-year relative survival rates

These numbers are based on people diagnosed with osteosarcoma between 2009 and 2015.

SEER stage

5-year relative survival rate

Localized

77%

Regional

64%

Distant

27%

All SEER stages combined

60%

Understanding the numbers

  • These numbers apply only to the stage of the cancer when it is first diagnosed. They do not apply later on if the cancer grows, spreads, or comes back after treatment.
  • These numbers don’t take everything into account. Survival rates are grouped based on how far the cancer has spread. But other factors, such as those listed below, can also affect a person’s outlook.
  • People being diagnosed with osteosarcoma now may have a better outlook than these numbers show. Treatments improve over time, and these numbers are based on people who were diagnosed and treated at least 5 years earlier.

*SEER = Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results

Other factors that can affect a person's prognosis (outlook)

Factors other than the stage of the cancer can also affect survival rates. For example, factors that have been linked with a better prognosis include:

  • Being younger (child or teen, as opposed to an adult)
  • Being female
  • The tumor being on an arm or leg (as opposed to the hip or other bones)
  • The tumor(s) being completely resectable (removable with surgery)
  • Normal blood alkaline phosphatase and LDH levels
  • The tumor responding well to chemotherapy

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Gorlick R, Janeway K, Marina N. Chapter 34: Osteosarcoma. In: Pizzo PA, Poplack DG, eds. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology. 7th ed. Philadelphia Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016.

Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, et al (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2016, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2016/, based on November 2018 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER website, April 2019.

National Cancer Institute. Osteosarcoma and Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma of Bone Treatment (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version. 2020. Accessed at www.cancer.gov/types/bone/hp/osteosarcoma-treatment-pdq on July 29, 2020.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Bone Cancer. Version 1.2020. Accessed at www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/bone.pdf on July 29, 2020.

References

Gorlick R, Janeway K, Marina N. Chapter 34: Osteosarcoma. In: Pizzo PA, Poplack DG, eds. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology. 7th ed. Philadelphia Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016.

Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, et al (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2016, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2016/, based on November 2018 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER website, April 2019.

National Cancer Institute. Osteosarcoma and Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma of Bone Treatment (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version. 2020. Accessed at www.cancer.gov/types/bone/hp/osteosarcoma-treatment-pdq on July 29, 2020.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Bone Cancer. Version 1.2020. Accessed at www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/bone.pdf on July 29, 2020.

Last Revised: October 8, 2020

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