By definition, cancer is a condition caused by abnormal cells that grow beyond control. The same holds true for bone cancer. Although bone cancer is not very common, the most common kind of bone cancer is called a bone sarcoma. Osteosarcoma or osteogenic sarcoma is a kind of bone cancer that may show up in the bone, muscle, blood vessels, fatty tissue inside the bone, and other areas.
Other bone cancers include:
Sometimes, tumors can develop in the bones but are not harmful because they do not cause cancer. These are called “benign” cancers. Some examples are:
Most of the symptoms of bone cancer are, not surprisingly, related to the bone or joint that has the cancer. Perhaps you notice a pain where the cancer is located that comes and goes—at first. Then, after a while, the pain sticks around—over-the-counter painkillers don’t seem to help. You might even find that the pain gets worse when moving or exercising or at night.
However, pain isn’t the only symptom or sign of bone cancer. You might also have:
Because bone cancer tends to share symptoms with many other health conditions, it can be a little tricky to diagnose. So, your doctor may order some of the following tests after taking your medical history and conducting a physical exam. These may include:
Sometimes, treating bone cancer might means you undergo surgery to remove the cancer for your affected limb—and 90% of people with bone cancer receive this treatment. This might include removing some of the surrounding tissue and bone. In more severe cases where the cancer occurs in the arms or legs, a surgeon may have to remove part of the limb. Cancers of the pelvis, jaw, cheekbone, spine and skull have other treatment options.
Regardless of whether you have surgery, you might also receive chemotherapy or radiotherapy (radiation).