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What are Bone Cancer Symptoms?

Bone cancer, or osteosarcoma, usually occurs in the long bones in your legs and arms. It can be hard to recognize the symptoms of osteosarcoma since many of these symptoms are also apparent in other conditions like osteoporosis, bone injury, or arthritis.

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If you have any of the symptoms of bone cancer you should talk to your doctor in order to determine whether you are suffering from cancer or another disease that can cause the same symptoms. Here are the symptoms that you should be looking out for.


Pain is one of the most common signs of bone cancer. The larger the tumor grows, the more pain will be noticeable. This is one way to distinguish pain due to bone cancer from pain due to injury, osteoporosis, or arthritis. While pain may increase due to osteoporosis or arthritis, it is unlikely to increase as rapidly as it will as a result of bone cancer.

Bone pain can be identified as a dull and deep ache in a bone region. It may be more likely at night or when you are active but will become more persistent throughout the day as cancer progresses.


As pain becomes more localized and intense around the growing tumor, the area may also show signs of swelling. This is especially likely if the bone is close to the surface of the skin, such as on the shin or forearm. As cancer progresses, swelling may become more evident as a lump or a mass.


Cancer can weaken the bone and result in a fracture. It is more likely that a fracture is a result of cancer if the area had been sore or painful for a period of time prior to the fracture. If you experience sudden pain or are aware of having fractured your bone, make sure that you mention any prior pain to your doctor so that they can distinguish your symptoms from osteoporosis.

Decreased Mobility

When a tumor is near a joint, it may make it more difficult for that joint to bend naturally, resulting in pain when you try to move naturally. This pain can be distinguished from the pain due to arthritis because it will be localized to one joint, whereas arthritic pain is generally common to all joints.

Other symptoms

Other symptoms that are common to cancer in general can indicate bone cancer. Unintended weight loss and fatigue along with pain in your bone are a strong indication that bone cancer is at fault since osteoporosis or arthritis is unlikely to result in lethargy or weight loss.

If you have increasing pain along with increasing fatigue and weight loss, bone cancer is especially likely to be the culprit. If cancer has metastasized to an organ such as the lungs, you may also struggle with breathing or have other symptoms related to various organ functions.

Go to Your Doctor at the First Sign of Bone Cancer

It can be very easy to write off bone cancer symptoms as the usual aches and pains of aging. For many of us, the thought of developing bone cancer is frightening enough that we may try as hard as we can to imagine that the symptoms we are experiencing are due to some other cause.

However, the best way to fight bone cancer is to catch it as early as possible, ideally before it has metastasized. If you have any suspicion that the symptoms that you are experiencing are not a result of osteoporosis or arthritis, talk to your doctor as soon as possible so that they may begin testing.

By Krisna Garcia (an aspiring writer from California, looking to grow her portfolio and build her specialization and expertise on beauty, lifestyle and health)

Follow her on twitter @Krisna Garcia