Your diagnosis


This article will help you read and understand your pathology report for chondroma.

by Ashley Flaman MD and Bibianna Purgina MD FRCPC, reviewed on October 28, 2020

Quick Facts

  • A chondroma is a non-cancerous tumour that often occurs in the hands.
  • Chondromas are known by a few different names, including extra skeletal chondroma, soft tissue chondroma, and chondroma of soft parts.
  • Most chondromas do not cause any symptoms, although some may cause to pain or enlargement of the affected area.

Normal cartilage

Cartilage is a special elastic type of tissue, which means that it can be bent or compressed (put under pressure) without breaking, a bit like rubber. Cartilage is found throughout the body, although most cartilage is found between bones where it helps form a cushion that protects the ends of the bones from damage. Some parts of the body, such as the nose and ears, are made almost entirely out of cartilage. Cartilage is made up of cells called chondrocytes, which are surrounded by specialized type of tissue called a matrix that gives it its rubbery nature.

What is a chondroma?

A chondroma is a non-cancerous tumour made up of chondrocytes that develops outside of bones. Chondromas can develop anywhere in the body although they are usually found in the hands or feet. They usually affect young and middle-aged adults.

In many cases, chondromas do not cause symptoms and are often found when imaging (such as an X-ray or CT scan) is performed for another reason. When they do cause symptoms, pain or enlargement of the affected area is most common.

Pathologists use the terms extra skeletal, soft tissue, and/or soft parts to mean that the tumour developed from tissue outside of the bone. This tissue is often a tendon that attaches muscle to bone. A closely related tumour that occurs inside the bone is called an enchondroma.

How do pathologists make this diagnosis?

The diagnosis can be made after a small tissue sample is removed in a procedure called a biopsy or when the entire tumour is removed in a procedure called a resection.

These tumours are typically small and range in size from 1 cm to 3 cm. Under the microscope, a chondroma is made up of chondrocytes and matrix that looks very similar to normal cartilage. At the edge of the tumour, there is a clear border between the tumour and the surrounding normal tissue which is typical for a non-cancerous tumour involving cartilage. Before making the diagnosis of chondroma, your pathologist may review your X-ray or other imaging results to confirm the non-cancerous appearance of the tumour.

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