Bone Cancer: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Stages

bone cancer symptoms causes diagnosis & stages

Cancer of the bone or bone cancer is a general term used when cancer cells are caught in the bone.  Cancer that initiates in the bone is called primary bone cancer. It is found most frequently in the arms and legs but it can happen in any bone in the body.  Children and young people are more probably than adults to have bone cancers.


The cause of most bone cancers is unidentified yet. A small number of bone cancers have been linked to genetic aspects, while others are related to any type of radiation exposure.

How common is bone cancer?

Bone cancers are rare but not very rare. They make up less than 1% of cancers in the United States and also account for less than 1% of all cancers worldwide. While they can develop at any age, they are more typical in children, teenagers and young adults than in older adults.

Types of Bone Cancer

Primary bone cancers are named sarcomas.  There are several other types of sarcoma and each type begins in a distinct kind of bone tissue. The most typical sarcomas are osteosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, and chondrosarcoma

In young people, the most typical type of bone cancer is osteosarcoma, usually appearing between the ages of ten and twenty-five. More frequently, males are more concerned than females.  Osteosarcoma oftentimes starts in the ends of the bones; where new bone tissue forms as a young person grow, usually involving the long bones of the arms and legs. 

Ewing’s sarcoma usually affects teenagers and is mostly found in individuals between ten and twenty-five years old.  This cancer forms in the middle part (shaft) of large bones and most frequently affects the hip bones and long bones in the thigh and upper arm, but can also appear in the ribs. 

Chondrosarcoma is a kind of tumor that forms in the cartilage (rubbery tissue around the joints) and is found primarily in adults. Cartilage is a smooth connective tissue that allows movement between bones and joints. Some cartilage becomes bone when the body adds calcium to that cartilage.   

Other kinds of bone cancer include fibrosarcoma (malignant giant cell tumor) and chordoma. These are rare cancers and most frequently affect people over thirty. This rare tumor starts in the bones of the spine — normally at the base of the spine or the base of the skull. Men are more probable than women to develop this kind of cancer.

Symptom of Bone Cancer

The most typical symptom of bone cancer is pain. However, symptoms may differ depending on the location and size of the cancer.  

Sometimes firm, just tender lump on the bone can be felt through the skin. Sometimes cancer interrupts normal movements and can also weaken or cause bones to break. 

Tumors that appear in or near joints may cause swelling and tenderness in the affected area. 

Other signs & symptoms may include fatigue, fever, weight loss, and anaemia.  It is important to check with a doctor when you encounter these symptoms, but these symptoms can also be provoked by other less serious conditions.

Risk factors

It’s not clear what causes bone cancer, but doctors have found specific characteristics are associated with an increased risk, including:

Inherited genetic syndromes:

Particular rare genetic syndromes passed through families increase the risk of cancer, including Li-Fraumeni syndrome and genetic retinoblastoma.

Paget’s disease of bone:

Most naturally occurring in older adults, Paget’s illness of bone can increase the risk of bone cancer developing later.

Radiation therapy for cancer

Exposure to large amounts of radiation, such as those given during radiation therapy for cancer, raises the risk of bone cancer in the future.


Treatment for some bone tumors may concern surgery, such as limb amputation. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are useful in some tumors (such as Ewing’s sarcoma) but less so in others (such as chondrosarcoma). 

After treatment has been done for bone cancer, it is very essential that regular follow-ups or check-ups are done with your doctor, to be sure that cancer has not repeated again and to treat \this cancer promptly if it does.  

Check-ups can be physical exams, x-rays, scans, blood tests, and other laboratory tests.

Individuals who have been diagnosed with bone cancer may have many physical, emotional, and practical worries.  They may worry that the removal of a limb or other surgery will influence not only how they look but how other individuals would feel about them.  

Patients can be assisted to overcome all these through remarkable support groups for youngsters with cancer and their families.


Staging is specified by the size and location of the tumor, and whether or not cancer has extended to other areas. Primary bone cancer is classified into four stages:

Stage 1: The tumor is low-grade, and the cancer cells are yet localized.

Stage 2: The cancer cells are yet localized, but the tumor is high-grade.

Stage 3: The tumor is high-grade and cancer has extended to other areas within the same joint.

Stage 4: Cancer had extended from the bone to other areas of the body, such as the lungs or liver.

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