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Understanding Bone cancer: Symptoms, Causes and Types of Bone Cancer

Updated: Apr 16, 2022


Bone cancer can affect any bone in the body, but it usually affects the long bones in the legs and arms or the pelvis. Bone cancer is mostly rare, making up to less than 1 percent of all cancers. Actually, noncancerous bone tumors are a lot more common than cancerous ones.

The term "bone cancer" does not involve cancers that start elsewhere in the body and later start to spread (metastasize) to the bone. Rather, those cancers are named after from where they start, similar to breast cancer that has metastasized to the bone.

A few types of bone cancer occur mostly in children, while others mostly affect adults. Surgical removal is often the most recommended treatment, but radiation therapy and chemotherapy also may be used. The decision to use radiation therapy, surgery, or chemotherapy depends on the type of bone cancer being treated.


Symptoms and Signs of bone cancer include:

● Weakened bone, resulting in a fracture

● Bone pain

● Fatigue

● Tenderness and Swelling near the affected area

● Unintended weight loss

When to see a Doctor?

Make an appointment with the doctor if your child or you yourself develop bone pain that:

● Comes on and off

● Worsens at night

● Has no relief to over-the-counter medication


The actual cause behind most bone cancers is unknown. A small number of bone cancers have been connected to hereditary factors, while others may be related to prior radiation exposure.

Types of bone cancer

Bone cancers can be broken down into separate kinds based on the type of cell where the cancer starts. The most commonly reported types of bone cancer include:

Osteosarcoma: Osteosarcoma is the most commonly reported form of bone cancer. In this tumor, the cancerous cells are produced in the bone. This variety of bone cancer mostly occurs in young adults and children, in the bones of the arm or leg. In some cases, osteosarcomas could arise outside of bones (extraskeletal osteosarcomas).

Chondrosarcoma: Chondrosarcoma is the second most commonly reported form of bone cancer. In this tumor, the cancerous cells start to produce in the cartilage. Chondrosarcoma mostly occurs in the legs, pelvis, or arms in older to middle-aged adults.

Ewing sarcoma: Ewing sarcoma tumors mostly arise in the legs, pelvis, or arms of young adults and children.

Risk factors

It's not clear as to what causes bone cancer, but doctors have found certain factors that could be associated with an increased risk, including:

Inherited genetic syndromes. A few rare genetic syndromes that could be passed through families can increase the risk of bone cancer, including hereditary retinoblastoma and Li-Fraumeni syndrome.

Paget's disease of bone. Most commonly reported in older adults, Paget's disease of bone could increase the risk of bone cancer developing later.

Radiation therapy for cancer. Getting exposed to large doses of radiation, like those produced during radiation therapy for treating cancer, could increase the risk of bone cancer in the future.

If you are a parent and are worried about your child’s bone health, or if you yourself have weak bones, then you need to visit an orthopedic surgeon, especially if you're dealing with the above-mentioned symptoms. Please be assured that our specialist doctors at 1 Health Medical Centre will diagnose your condition and recommend the way forward.


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