A mass of unusual cells growing in a bone. Most bone tumours aren’t cancerous. Causes of bone tumours include abnormal healing of an injury, inherited conditions and radiation therapy. They can also be caused by bone cancer or another cancer that has spread to the bone from other parts of the body. A bone tumour may cause a painless mass. Some people have dull, aching pain. In some cases, a minor injury causes a fracture near the tumour.
Generally, bone cancer is much easier to cure in otherwise healthy people whose cancer hasn’t spread. Overall, around 6 in every 10 people with bone cancer will live for at least 5 years from the time of their diagnosis, and many of these may be cured completely. Treatments include surgery and radiation. Some non-cancerous tumours go away without treatment.
Bone pain is the most common symptom of bone cancer. Some people experience other symptoms as well. Pain caused by bone cancer usually begins with a feeling of tenderness in the affected bone. This gradually progresses to a persistent ache or an ache that comes and goes, which continues at night and when resting.
Any bone can be affected, although bone cancer most often develops in the long bones of the legs or upper arms. The pain can sometimes be wrongly mistaken for arthritis in adults and growing pains in children and teenagers. If the bone is near a joint, the swelling may make it difficult to use the joint. This may make it difficult to walk, and you may walk with a limp.
The most common symptom for a person with bone cancer is nagging, persistent pain in the affected area. Over time, the pain gets worse and more continuous. Although much less common, a person with bone cancer might also experience fever, chills, and night sweats.
Signs and symptoms of bone cancer include:
- swelling in the affected area
- weak bones that lead to a significantly higher risk of fracture
- unintentional weight loss
- a lump in the affected area
See your GP if you or your child experiences persistent, severe or worsening bone pain, or if you’re worried you have any of the other symptoms of bone cancer.
While it’s highly unlikely that your symptoms are caused by cancer, it’s best to be sure by getting a proper diagnosis.