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Signs and Symptoms of Bone Cancer

bone cancer healthWhile not a common type of cancer, bone cancer can begin in any bone of the body and targets both children and adults. The Mayo Clinic classifies bone cancer as a cancer that begins in the bones and not a cancer that has originated elsewhere in the body first and then progressed to the bones.

Signs and symptoms of bone cancer vary for each individual. Bone cancer sufferers may experience some or none of the symptoms. Common symptoms of bone cancer include: pain, tenderness, swelling, bone fractures and fatigue.

Pain in the Bones from Cancer

In the beginning stages of bone cancer, pain is not consistent and will often be worse at night. Most bone cancer sufferers will experience a dull intermittent pain at first.

If the bone cancer is in the lower extremities, pain will get worse after long periods of exertion such as walking or jogging. As the cancer progresses and the tumor grows, pain will be noticeable more often until it becomes a constant pain.

Tenderness and Swelling in a Specific Area with Bone Cancer

As the bone cancer grows, it can cause tenderness and swelling in the affected area. This tenderness and swelling is most noticeable when there is no explainable reason for the soreness, such as heavy exercise or twisting the wrong way.

Occasionally a soft lump may also be felt around the tender area and/or on the bone itself. If this lump is cancerous it will often not go away and will continue to grow.

Bone Cancer Causes Weakened Bones and Fractures

As the tumor grows on the bone it will weaken the bone structure, making it brittle and vulnerable to a fracture. Often, a person with bone cancer is unaware they have cancer until they experience a sharp pain from a fracture. Upon evaluating the fracture, medical professionals will find the cancer within the bones.

Fatigue and Unusual Weakness is a Symptom of Bone Cancer

The Mayo Clinic reports various reasons for fatigue when cancer is present in the body. Enduring constant pain can be tiring and can lead to general weakness. Cancer can also alter the body's chemistry, releasing proteins called cytokines. Cytokines are suspected at causing fatigue.

Emotional fatigue may also be present as well as problems sleeping, either due to the pain and/or due to emotional worry and stress.

Joining a cancer support group can be beneficial when dealing with bone cancer. Cancer Care is an organization offering support for cancer patients and offers various support groups as well.

Further Reading:

Types of Primary Bone Cancer

Dangerous Ingredients in Cosmetics and Personal Care Products


The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.


Mayo Clinic, "Bone Cancer" (accessed July 13, 2010)

Bone Cancer Symptoms, "Symptoms of Bone Cancer" (accessed July 13, 2010)

Mayo Clinic, " Cancer fatigue: Why it occurs and how to cope" (accessed July 13, 2010)

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