Understanding the Basics of Bone Cancer [2023]: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Bone cancer is one of numerous types of cancer that occur in the bones. Primary bone cancers are tumors that start in the bone. Tumors that develop in the organs or other regions of the body can travel to the bones. Treatment options include surgery, radiation treatment, and chemotherapy.

What is Bone Cancer?

Bone cancer is any type of cancer arising from the bone. Bone cancer can begin in any bone in the body, but it commonly affects the long bones in the arms, legs, and pelvis. Normal bone tissue can be harmed when cancer cells develop in the bone. The kind of bone cancer is determined by the type of cell and tissue in which the disease develops.

Stages –

  1. Cancer is confined to the bone.
  2. Cancer hasn`t spread but may become invasive, making it a threat to other tissues.
  3. Cancer has spread to one or more areas of the bone and has become invasive.
  4. Cancer has spread to the tissues of the bone and other body parts such as the lungs, and brain.

Symptoms –

Bone cancer symptoms might include:

  • discomfort and edema in the damaged bones
  • a palpable solid mass in the lengthy bones of your limbs, pelvis, or chest feeling weary or exhausted pain in your bones that wakes you up at night bone pain that can begin after mild injuries
  • reduced range of motion

Less common symptoms include:

  • weight loss
  • fever
  • easily fractured bones

While pain is the most prevalent sign of bone cancer, not all kinds of bone cancer produce it.

If you have any of the following symptoms, you should see a doctor to see if they are caused by bone cancer.

Types of bone Cancer –

Bone tumors may be classified as primary or secondary.

Primary bone tumors – are the worst type of bone cancer. They develop in the bones or surrounding tissue, such as cartilage. Common types of primary bone cancer may include:

  • Osteosarcoma – This is the most common form of bone cancer; it begins in the cell that forms bone. It generally affects children and young adults between ages 10 and 30, in the bones of the leg and arm.
  • Chondrosarcoma – The second most common form of bone cancer. It forms in the subchondral tissue, which is the tough connective between the tissues, it usually occurs in the pelvis, thigh areas and shoulders. It rarely occurs in people under the age of 20.
  • Ewing`s Sarcoma – It is rare cancer that forms in the bones of children and in young adults and is rarely seen in adults over the age of 30. It commonly arises in the long bones of the body, such as the pelvis, arms, and the legs.

Secondary bone cancer – occurs more frequently than original bone cancer. This type is more common than primary bone cancer.

Causes –

The cause of bone cancer is not exactly known, but a number of hereditary and environmental factors are likely involved in the development of bone cancer.

Certain factors that are associated with an increased risk may include:

  • Exposure to high dose of radiation.
  • Inherited genetic syndrome
  • Having Paget`s disease
  • A family history of bone cancer

Diagnosis –

Imaging test can be used to determine the location and size of bone tumors and whether they have spread to other areas of body.

The type of imaging test depends on our symptoms.  This may include:

  • CT scan
  • X-ray, bone scan
  • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • MRI

The doctor may also recommend a biopsy – a procedure that includes removing a sample of tissue from the tumor for testing in the laboratory.

Treatment –

The stage, your general health, and preference will determine the treatment option. Treatment option may include:

  • Surgery – to remove the entire cancerous tumor, or to remove all parts of a limb if it is very large.
  • Radiation Therapy – that uses powerful, energy beams such as X-rays to kill the cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy – that involves using medication injected intravenously or taken orally to kill the cancer cells.  


Bone cancer therapies may cause issues with your heart, lungs, brain, hearing, bones, or fertility over time. It is serious to have frequent visits with your doctor to look for these consequences and to ensure that the bone cancer does not reoccur.

Your recovery from bone cancer is determined by its kind and stage. More than 78% of persons with it live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.

Frequently Asked Questions-

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