What Are the Symptoms of Bone Cancer?

Updated on January 2, 2017
Abbyfitz profile image

I have always expressed myself better in writing than verbally. I love to write, paint, draw, travel, play piano, sew, and make crafts.

My Sister as a Teenager

Source

When Bone Cancer Struck My Sister

Cancer of the bones is not very common. The American Cancer Society estimates that only about 2,300 people are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year. However, when a loved one receives this diagnosis, the low statistics don't mean much.

My big sister, Kim, was the light of my life—my best friend. We affectionately called each other "Sister." In 2006, we discovered she had bone cancer. It came as a big shock to all of us, but looking back, there were some warning signs. They just weren't anything we thought of as significant at the time.

The symptoms of bone cancer often go undetected. I hope that by reading this article you will become more informed about the symptoms and treatments for this cancer.

Common Questions About Bone Cancer Answered

Common Symptoms of Bone Cancer

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Bone breakage with little to no trauma

Advanced Stages

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Weight Loss

Common Bone Cancer Symptoms

One of the main symptoms of bone cancer is pain and swelling. Patients with bone cancer can experience pain at the affected area. However, some patients never experience any bone pain.

Sister complained of lower back pain for months. She thought it was just because she had a bad back. Going to a chiropractor brought her no relief. She also experienced swelling in her leg. When we discovered she had cancer, she had it in her femur and hip bone. The pain in her back was no doubt caused by the cancer in her hip, and the swelling in her leg was from the tumor that was there.

Fatigue can be another symptom of bone cancer. It can be caused by the bone cancer itself, or it can mean that it has spread elsewhere in the body.

Sister was often tired. She worked two jobs, and she thought that maybe she was just tired from that. But even if she didn't do very much, she still complained of feeling tired and worn down.

Bone fracture or breakage is usually the way patients find out they have bone cancer because the other symptoms can be caused by things that can be attributed to other health issues. Tumors attach themselves to the bone and weaken it, allowing even slight trauma to cause a fracture or break.

This is how Sister found out she had cancer. She was simply walking at work when she heard and felt a pop in her leg. Her femur had broken without any trauma; she was just going about her day. When she was taken to the ER and x-rays were taken, it was discovered she had bone tumors. She had to have surgery to put in hardware to repair her leg, and the tumors were removed.

Other symptoms, such as fever, chills, night sweats, or weight loss are possible, but they are very uncommon. When these symptoms present themselves, it usually means that the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Consult Your Doctor

Bone cancer has few symptoms. However, the symptoms that do arise are often the result of something else, entirely. If you have any of these symptoms and they do not go away, be sure to visit your doctor to rule out other health problems.

Women's Health Online Describes The Symptons of Bone Cancer

Bone Cancer Treatment

The type of treatment you receive depends on the specific type of bone cancer, as well as your age and overall health condition.

The most common treatments are:

  • surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • radiation
  • cryosurgery

In surgery, the doctor will remove the bone and any diseased tissue that is nearby. They will also attach hardware to your bones if they are broken or very weak. Advances in medicine have made it very rare that amputation (if cancer is in the arm or leg) is needed.

Following surgery, depending on your type of bone cancer, you may be given a course of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy can be in the form of pills or given intravenously.

Sister was given both, often at the same time. At first, she was given her chemotherapy through an IV. Chemo is very hard on your body, even the veins that the drugs are given through. After a few months, she had a port placed in her chest where the chemo drugs could go straight in her system. The side effects she experienced from the chemo were nausea and fatigue. To her delight, she did not lose her hair, although I think she was the exception to the rule.

Radiation therapy is really very strong x-rays that are directed at the cancer site in order to kill the cancer. Radiation is often used in conjunction with chemotherapy.

Sister also received radiation. It did not cause her pain during her sessions, but it did make her skin sore afterwards. It looked as if she had a sunburn in the area they treated.

Another treatment that doctors may prescribe is cryosurgery. Basically, your doctor will use liquid nitrogen in an attempt to kill the cancer cells. Your doctor may do cryosurgery instead of traditional surgery depending on the type of cancer you have.

Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer) Magnified 400x

Source

Survival Rates?

When you or a loved one is diagnosed with bone cancer, knowing the survival statistics can be a comfort. Doctors often find it difficult, though, to put a precise number on the survival rate. Beating bone cancer depends on many factors, including as the type of bone cancer you have, how soon you received treatment, and whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Instead of dwelling on statistics, it is far better to follow your doctor's plan of treatment, have a positive outlook, take care of yourself emotionally and physically, and surround yourself with your friends and loved ones.

By following your doctor's plan of treatment, you will be doing everything medically that you can to beat the cancer. When you keep your outlook positive and take care of yourself, you create a positive environment for yourself. It is much easier to thrive. Use your friends and family as your support system, and you can turn your focus toward getting better.

Is Bone Cancer Always Fatal?

Tips For Loved Ones and Friends

Do
Don't
Always try to be positive
Talk about your problems or anything negative
Help with housework, shopping, cooking
Assume they don't want something done, even if they say no. They may just be trying to be polite
Offer to take them out to eat, shopping, or for a drive if they feel up to going
Let your loved one stay at home all the time. It can be depressing
Take their lead. If they want to talk about the cancer, be a good listener
Constantly talk about the cancer and their medical condition

How To Help Your Loved One With Bone Cancer

When Sister was first diagnosed with bone cancer, it came as a shock. Because the cancer was in her hip and femur, she was unable to walk without a walker or a wheelchair. Anytime I talked with her, I always tried to be positive and not talk about negative things. She was already dealing with enough.

My mother and I helped her as much as we could with things like cooking, cleaning, and shopping. She protested and said we didn't need to do anything—but she still appreciated that we did it for her. She just didn't want to a bother.

I always encouraged her, if she felt up to it, to go out with me to eat, go shopping, or just take a drive. When you're sick and the inside of the house or hospital is all you see, it's nice to get out and do something fun for a change.

If Sister wanted to talk about her cancer, I let her. I didn't want to push her if she didn't want to talk about it.

Your loved one is depending on you, other family members, and friends to help them through this difficult time. Be there for them emotionally and physically. They will appreciate it more than you know.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • Abbyfitz profile imageAUTHOR

        Abbyfitz 

        2 years ago from Florida

        Cancer is a horrible thing. With my sister I learned that it can attack silently. I can't say whether your sister has bone cancer or not. But if you're concerned, I say definitely seek a second opinion. Doctors can be wrong, and it's your sister's right to make sure such a serious diagnosis is correct. I hope you and your family well.

      • profile image

        Karina 

        2 years ago

        My sister was never sick or suffered any pain, she was pregnant with her third child and when she gave birth she developed a hemorrhage, after that was controlled she was sent home. A few days later she complained of back pain and we took her to the ER, they had told us first that she might have had a virus from the transfusion and that was why she had a kidney infection, she had dialysis but kept getting worse, her platelets where very low.The doctors did not know what it was and after several test the doctors said it was bone cancer that had spread to her bone marrow. They did not give my sister much hope and only a few days or moths to live. I was wondering if this could really be bone cancer? Or can it be something else? If it is bone cancer why didn't she show NO symptoms before the baby?

      • Abbyfitz profile imageAUTHOR

        Abbyfitz 

        4 years ago from Florida

        Some people don't know until it's too late, that's why I think it's important to know what the symptoms are.

      • Abbyfitz profile imageAUTHOR

        Abbyfitz 

        5 years ago from Florida

        Thank you. Sometimes we dismiss symptoms when we should really pay more attention to them.

      • sallybea profile image

        Sally Gulbrandsen 

        5 years ago from Norfolk

        A brave Hub and important subject tackled very well. I am sure your sister would be very proud of you. I knew an elderly man who had no idea that the pain in his bones was caused by cancer. Thank you for sharing your experience with bone cancer.

      • Abbyfitz profile imageAUTHOR

        Abbyfitz 

        5 years ago from Florida

        Thank you!

      • CyberShelley profile image

        Shelley Watson 

        5 years ago

        A wonderful hub, imparting useful information, as we will all know someone with cancer at sometime in our lives.

      • Abbyfitz profile imageAUTHOR

        Abbyfitz 

        5 years ago from Florida

        Thank you. Sister was one of a kind. I have learned to live life so that you don't regret anything and say I love you every chance you get.

      • Pool Of Thoughts profile image

        David Steffy 

        5 years ago from Southern Ohio

        Great hub, I'm sure it was difficult to write but it was really informative. Your sister looks like are really sweet person. I've lost two dear people two prostate cancer. We're only here a short time, even if by God's grace we live to be 90, it goes by so fast!..especially in this fast paced age. God bless you.

      • Abbyfitz profile imageAUTHOR

        Abbyfitz 

        5 years ago from Florida

        Pegcole17, thank you so much for your kind words. I will never forget the time I was able to spend with sister. Pushing her in the wheelchair in the mall or going and fixing her dinner wasn't a chore to me, I enjoyed being there for her. So many times those that are sick don't want to be a burden to their loved ones. But in reality we are glad to do anything for them.

        Cathy, thank you, too. Yes, being positive is a must. When you're dealing with cancer your outlook makes all the difference.

      • Cathy Fidelibus profile image

        Ms. Immortal 

        5 years ago from NJ

        I am so sorry about your sister. This was great information and important advice. When my mom was sick, I tried to be as cheerful and positive as I could (which can be difficult when we are so sad ourselves). Sometimes just watching a funny or uplifting movie together made all the difference.

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 

        5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

        Dear Abbyfitz,

        You've summarized the most important issues here in dealing with this devastating disease. A diagnosis of cancer affects everyone in the family, from worries that we might get it too, to wondering how we'll remain positive in light of uncertain outcomes. Sometimes we are hoping we're up to the task of helping take care of the ailing patient when we're not all that into medical stuff. A family member suddenly becomes aware of the infinite preciousness of every moment spent at the loved one's side and the biggest realization, that we are mortal beings. Every day becomes a blessing and we pray that things will someday return to normal for our loved one.

        You've written so much in between the lines, of the shared pain we feel for the patient and you've listed the best ways to handle the impossible.

        Your conclusion says it all:

        "Your loved one is depending on you and other family members and friends to help them through this. Be there for them emotionally and physically. They will appreciate it more than you know."

        Well said.

        My heartfelt sympathies go out to your family in this difficult time.

      • greencha profile image

        greencha 

        5 years ago from UK

        Very interesting and important info..thankyou..

      • Abbyfitz profile imageAUTHOR

        Abbyfitz 

        5 years ago from Florida

        Thank you. I was trying to balance between informative and personal.

      • moonlake profile image

        moonlake 

        5 years ago from America

        Sorry about your sister. All cancers are terrible but I know bone cancer is one of the worst. Great hub with good information. Voted up and shared.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, healdove.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://healdove.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)