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What Are the Symptoms of Primary Bone Cancer?

Symptoms of primary bone cancer develop slowly over time. The kind of symptoms you or your child experiences depends on the type, location, and size of the tumor. Following are some common symptoms of primary bone cancer:

  • Pain. Pain is the most common symptom of primary bone cancer. At first, you may not feel the pain all the time. It may be worse at night or when you use the bone, such as when you walk. As the cancer grows, the pain may become constant. Sometimes, primary bone cancer interferes with normal movements. Pain in your leg, for instance, may cause you to limp.

  • Swelling. Sometimes, people experience swelling in the area of the pain. It may or may not happen at the same time that pain starts. Depending on the location of the tumor, you may feel a lump or mass.

  • Fractures. Primary bone cancer can weaken the bone. In some situations, the weakness can lead to a fracture or break in your bone. People describe this as a sudden, intense pain in a limb that had previously been sore for months.

  • Other symptoms. You might experience weight loss and fatigue, especially if the cancer spreads beyond your bone. The cancer can also affect other organs, leading to symptoms. You might have trouble breathing, for instance, if the cancer spreads to your lungs.

These symptoms may be caused by primary bone cancer or by other, less serious conditions. Most people with these symptoms do not have cancer. It’s important to check with a doctor to be sure.

Can I get checked for primary bone cancer before I have symptoms?

Screening tests check for diseases in people who don’t have symptoms. There are no routine screening tests that are reasonable to use to detect primary bone cancer. If you are at increased risk for a primary bone cancer, talk with your doctor to make sure you understand the signs and symptoms of this disease. You may be able to catch it in its early stages, when it’s easiest to treat.



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