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Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Bone cancer is the growth of tumors or abnormal tissue in the bones. Cancer can grow in any bone in the body, but is most common in the pelvis, arms and legs. See an explanation of the symptoms and how to treat it below.

Bone Cancer: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Symptoms of Bone Cancer

Signs of bone cancer vary, depending on its size and location. In general, there are three main symptoms, including:

1. Bone Pain

The earliest symptoms of bone cancer are pain and swelling where the tumor has grown. The pain may come and go at first, but it will get worse over time.

If you do physical activity, the pain can get worse and soft tissue swelling may appear.

2. Swollen and Stiff Joints

Tumors that occur near or within a joint can cause the joint to swell and become tender or stiff. This condition makes a person may have a limited and painful range of motion.

3. Broken Bones

If the bone that was attacked by the tumor is cracked or broken, for example in the leg, this can cause a limp. Limping is usually a symptom of advanced bone cancer.

Cancer sufferers may have other symptoms that are relatively rare. Other less common features of bone cancer include:

  • Fever.
  • Weight loss.
  • Anemia.

When is the Right Time to See a Doctor?

Immediately see a doctor if you experience persistent bone pain, the condition worsens, or experience some of the above symptoms that worry you.

Causes of Bone Cancer

The cause of this condition is not known with certainty. However, in general, cancer occurs when normal cell growth is disrupted, which allows cancer cells to divide and grow uncontrollably into tumors.

Although the exact cause of bone cancer is not known, there are several factors that can increase the risk of bone cancer, including:

1. Paget’s disease

People with Paget’s disease have an increased risk of developing bone cancer. This condition most often occurs in adults.

2. Radiation Therapy for Cancer

Exposure to high doses of radiation, such as that given during radiation therapy for cancer treatment, can increase the risk of bone cancer later in life.

3. Inherited Genetic Syndromes

Rare genetic syndromes that run in families increase the risk of this cancer, as does the syndrome Li-Fraumeni (a disorder that increases the risk of some types of cancer) and retinoblastoma (cancer that affects the retina of the eye) is hereditary.

4. Bone Marrow Transplant

Previous bone marrow transplants can also increase your risk of developing cancer later in life. Sometimes sufferers osteosarcoma to undergo a bone marrow transplant.

Also Read: 6 Causes of Rib Pain and How to Overcome Them

Types of Bone Cancer

There are several types of bone cancer, here’s a full explanation:

1. Osteosarcoma

This type of cancer develops in the cells that make up bone (osteoblasts), especially in the bones of the arms, hips and legs. This is a type of bone cancer that is more common in men than women, namely in the ages of 10 to 30 years, but about 10% occurs in people in their 60s to 70s.

2. Chondrosarcoma

This cancer usually begins in cartilage, a type of connective tissue that lines the joints, and then spreads to the bones. This It is one of the most common types of cancer, and often occurs in the upper legs, pelvis and shoulders.

This type of cancer often occurs in adults over the age of 40 and is usually a slow growing cancer.

3. Chordoma

This is a very rare spinal cancer. It usually develops at the base of the spine and skull in adults. Children and adolescents are also at risk, and it usually starts growing at the base of the neck and skull.

4. Ewing’s Sarcoma

Ewing’s sarcoma or Ewing’s sarcoma it usually develops on the pelvis, chest, shinbone, or femur. However, it is also possible for this condition to develop in soft tissue, such as fat, muscle, or blood vessels.

These are tumors that are fast growing and can spread to other organs further in the body, such as the lungs. Usually occurs in adolescents aged between 10-19 years.

5. Fibrosarcoma

This is a type of cancer that develops more frequently in soft tissue than in bone. Fibrosarcoma usually occurs in the elderly and middle aged. It usually occurs in the bones in the legs, arms, and jaw.

Also Read: 13 Abnormalities in Bones and How to Maintain Healthy Bones

Bone Cancer Stage

After being diagnosed with this cancer, the doctor will determine the stage and grade of the cancer to determine the right treatment method.

Stage is how far the cancer has spread and how fast it is likely to spread in the future.

Several stages of bone cancer, including:

  • Stage I: low grade and the cancer has not spread beyond the bone.
  • Stage II: the cancer has still not spread beyond the bone, but the grade is high
  • Stage III: the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs
  • Stage IV: has reached the most severe stage. This condition will appear in several locations and will spread to the lungs, lymph nodes, or other organs.

Diagnosis Bone cancer

Imaging tests can help determine the location and size of a bone tumor, and whether the tumor has spread to other parts of the body.

The types of imaging tests recommended depend on the signs and symptoms. There are a number of tests to diagnose this cancer, including:

1. X-rays

Is ais a procedure in which radiation is used to produce pictures of the inside of the body. This test is very effective for looking at bone in detail.

X-rays can usually detect damage to the bones caused by cancer. It can also determine whether the symptoms are caused by something else, such as a broken bone (fracture).

If this procedure detects cancer, you should undergo further investigations to diagnose and treat that condition.

2. Bone Scan

This test can provide more detailed information about the inside of a bone than an X-ray. During a bone scan, a small amount of radioactive material is injected into a vein.

The affected area of ​​bone absorbs the material more quickly than normal bone and it will be possible to show where the tumor has developed on a scan.


m scanmagnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of bones and soft tissues. MRI is an effective way to determine the size and spread of a cancerous tumor around the bone.

4. CT Scan

Scan ccomputerised tomography (CT) uses X-rays to produce images and a computer can assemble them into a three-dimensional (3D) image of your body. CT scans often used to check whether cancer has spread to the lungs.

5. Biopsy

This is the surest way to diagnose cancer. The biopsy procedure is carried out by taking a bone sample suspected of having cancer and sending it to a laboratory for examination. This test can accurately determine the type of bone cancer and the stage of the cancer.

Also Read: 12 Foods for Fractures to Recover Faster

Bone Cancer Treatment

Cancer treatment depends on its type, how far the cancer has spread, and the general health of the underlying cause. The main treatments for this cancer are surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as follows:

1. Operation

Surgery aims to remove the entire cancerous tumor. Surgery is performed using a special technique to remove the tumor in one piece, along with a small portion of the healthy tissue that surrounds it.

The surgeon will replace the bone with bone from another area of ​​your body, or with bone replacement made of high-quality metal and plastic.

Meanwhile, bone cancers that are very large or located at a complicated point in the bone may require surgery to remove all or part of the bone (amputation). However, as other treatments have become more sophisticated, amputation may become less common.

If your cancer condition requires an amputation, you may be fitted with an artificial limb and undergo training to learn how to do everyday activities using your new limb.

2. Chemotherapy

This treatment uses strong anticancer drugs, usually given by injection (intravenously) to kill cancer cells.

However, this treatment is more effective for some types of bone cancer. For example, chemotherapy usually not very effective for cchondrosarcomabut effective for osteosarcoma and Ewing’s Sarcoma.

4. Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses X-rays to kill cancer cells. During this therapy, the patient lies on a table while a special machine moves and directs beams of energy at precise points on your body.

Radiation therapy is usually used before surgery because it can shrink tumors and make them easier to remove. This method can help reduce the possibility of amputation.

Radiation therapy can also be used in patients who cannot be treated with surgery. After surgery, radiation therapy can be used to kill any remaining cancer cells. For people with advanced cancer, radiation therapy can help control signs and symptoms, such as pain.

Bone Cancer Complications

Complications can occur due to the disease itself or due to the method of treatment. Some of the complications that can occur include:

  • Infection.
  • Bleeding as a side effect of surgery.
  • Complications due to chemotherapy, such as hair loss, canker sores, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.
  • Complications due to radiotherapy, such as burns, hair loss, organ damage, and impaired bone growth.
  • Emotional breakdown.
  • Disorders of the lungs and heart.
  • Sexual changes.
  • Possible cancer growth in other organs (metastasis).

Bone cancer is a disease that is difficult to prevent. However, medical examinations can help detect bone cancer earlier. The sooner it is detected, the greater the chance of recovery.

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  2. Anonymous. 2018. Bone Cancer. (Accessed 8 February 2023).
  3. Adam Felman. 2019. What to Know about Bone Cancer. (Accessed 8 February 2023).
  4. Macon, Brindles L and Marijane L. 2016. Bone Cancer. (Accessed 8 February 2023).

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