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Bone Cancer: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment of This Cancer

Medically reviewed by John Paul Abrina, MD · Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Jul 08, 2022

Bone Cancer: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment of This Cancer

Bone cancer is a rare form of cancer; it makes up just 1% of all cancers. However, it is important to be aware of bone cancer symptoms so that you know if you need to visit a doctor to get a symptom checked out.

Below is everything that you need to know about bone cancer.

What Is Bone Cancer?

Bone cancer is a type of cancer that affects a person’s osteocytes, or cells that make up the bones. According to the American Cancer Society, primary bone cancer are fairly uncommon, occurring in less than 1% of all cancers. However, bone metastasis, or spread of cancer from one site to the bones is much more common.

There are also three different type of bone cancer, which are1:


This commonly occurs in younger people, aged 10 to 19. It usually manifests in the legs or upper arms, though it can also be found in other bones. This is also the most common form of bone cancer.


Chondrosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that starts developing in cartilage. It affects people aged 40 and below. This is the second most common form of bone cancer.

Ewing’s Sarcoma

This is a form of sarcoma that affects children and teens aged 19 and below. This usually occurs in the pelvis, arms, and legs. Among the three types of bone cancer, Ewing’s sarcoma is the rarest. It’s even rarer in adults compared to children.

Bone Cancer Symptoms

Bone cancer symptoms can vary from person to person, but here are some of the common symptoms2:

  • Pain felt in the bones
  • Easily fractured bones
  • Fatigue
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Swelling and tenderness in the area affected by tumors

If you experience any of these symptoms, it would be best to visit a doctor as soon as possible. In children, these symptoms should not be ignored as younger people have a higher incidence of bone cancer compared to other types of cancer.

What Causes Bone Cancer?

Doctors still aren’t sure as to what exactly causes bone cancer. But it is widely believed that there are certain risk factors that can contribute to a person’s risk of bone cancer. These risk factors include the following3:

  • Genetics. Certain genetic syndromes can increase a person’s risk of developing bone cancer. These genetic syndromes can also be passed down through families.
  • A disease known as Paget’s disease of bone has been found to increase a person’s risk of bone cancer. This illness usually affects older adults and is not common in younger people.
  • Exposure to large doses of radiation can also be a risk factor for bone cancer.

How Is It Treated?

Before treating bone cancer, doctors will try to know the extent of the cancer. This is usually done through an x-ray, as this allows doctors to see the damage the cancer has done to the bone.

If doctors believe that a person has bone cancer, then they will do a biopsy in order to confirm it. This involves taking a sample of the suspected bone, and sending it to a laboratory for testing. Biopsies on bone cancer are done under anesthesia.

Treatment for bone cancer can be a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy4. The surgery is used to remove cancerous bone, and, if possible, doctors will try to reconstruct the bone that was removed. However, amputation can also be necessary if the cancer has spread significantly.

Chemotherapy is a way to treat cancer using potent drugs that target and destroy cancerous cells. Radiotherapy also does the same, but through the use of radiation or energy. Both chemotherapy and radiotherapy have side effects, and your doctor will discuss these with you before starting any procedure.

Learn more about Cancer here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

John Paul Abrina, MD

Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Jul 08, 2022

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