5 Common Symptoms of Bone Cancer

May 7th 2016

While primary bone cancer is considered rare, it does affect a small portion of the population each year. Prompt treatment is essential when it comes to preventing the spread of bone cancer and extending survival rates.

Bone Pain

Bone pain is the most common symptom of bone cancer. In the early stages, bone pain remains localized in the affected bone and may only occur intermittently or at night. As the tumor grows, bone pain most often becomes more constant and worsens with walking or physical activity.

Bone Fractures

Malignancies in the bone tissue can cause the bones to weaken, which increases the risk of bone fractures. Bone fractures caused by bone cancer are most common in the arms and legs. In many cases, a fractured bone is the first physical symptom of bone cancer. When a cancerous bone snaps or fractures, it often causes a sharp pain in the middle area of the back.

Swelling and Tenderness

Swelling is another symptom of bone cancer that may not occur until the later stages of the disease. When swelling does occur, it presents in the area of the affected bones. The skin may also feel tender when pressed. If the cancer is in the neck area, the swelling or mass can make it difficult to swallow.

Numbness and Tingling

Bone cancers that develop in the spinal area often cause compression of the spinal nerves. This can lead to numbness and tingling of the legs and arms. The compression may also cause back pain and a tingling sensation in the abdomen. Individuals with spinal cord bone tumors may have difficulty passing urine or bowel movements.

Weight Loss and Exhaustion

Similar to many other cancers, malignancies of the bones can cause weight loss as the disease progresses. Individuals with bone cancer may also experience episodes of exhaustion or extreme fatigue as their bodies attempts to fight the illness.

Treatment for Bone Cancer

Treatment for bone cancer depends on the size and location of the malignancy, as well as the cancer stage. Treatment options include surgery to remove the tumors and affected tissues, chemotherapy, radiation, and cryosurgery treatments that work to freeze cancerous cells.

Conclusion

Bone cancer is a tumor that develops in the bones. Unlike cancers that begin in other parts of the body and metastasize to the bones, bone cancer starts in a bone and can travel to the other bones. Malignant bone tumors gradually spread and destroy bone tissue, but benign tumors remain localized and are not life-threatening in most cases.

Malignant bone cancer, also referred to as primary bone cancer, affects approximately 2,300 individuals each year. While malignant bone cancer is rare, treatment must begin as soon as possible to prevent the tumors from spreading and destroying bone tissue. Symptoms of bone cancer can often be mistaken for other bone and muscle conditions, so it is important for anyone experiencing unusual symptoms to consult with a physician for an accurate diagnosis.

Sources

Cancer.org "Signs and symptoms of bone cancer" http://www.cancer.org/cancer/bonecancer/detailedguide/bone-cancer-signs-symptoms
Cancer.gov "Bone cancer" http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/bone/bone-fact-sheet
MayoClinic.org "Bone cancer: Symptoms and causes" http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bone-cancer/symptoms-causes/dxc-20126419
URMC.rochester.edu "Understanding bone metastases when cancer spreads to the bones" http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=34&ContentID=25952-1

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