Living with bone cancer
This information is about life after having surgery for bone cancer. You may find it useful to read the information about surgery first.
Life after limb-sparing surgery
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The long-term effects of limb-sparing surgery depend on which part of your body is affected and what kind of operation you have. The best person to ask is your surgeon.
After limb-sparing surgery the limb might not work as well as it used to. Physiotherapy is an important part of your recovery. You’ll be given exercises to do to help you get your limb working as well as possible. These can be hard work, but it’s important to keep going with them.
Knee joint replacement
If you’ve had a knee joint replacement you’ll be able to walk and swim, but your doctor might advise you not to play high-impact sports like hockey, football, tennis or rugby. These activities could damage or loosen the new joint.
It’s usually okay to run a short distance, for example for a bus, but running or jogging regularly wears out the new joint, so it’s best to avoid this. If your knee joint wears out or loosens, you might need to have it replaced after a few years.
Hip joint replacements
After a hip joint replacement you should be able to do most of your usual activities, but you’ll probably be advised to avoid running and high-impact sports.
If you’ve had a shoulder replacement, you’ll be able to move your arm below shoulder height the same as before, but you might not be able to lift your arm above your shoulder.
If you’ve had an implant put into your limb while you’re still growing, you’ll need to have it lengthened as your leg or arm grows. Some types of implant can be lengthened without an operation, but with others you’ll need surgery. Your specialist or key worker can tell you what kind of implant you have.
After amputation most people have an artificial limb, called a prosthesis. There are artificial limbs designed to let you do all types of physical activities, including walking, swimming, running, cycling and playing sports.
Different types of prosthesis let you do different things. Some people have one for wearing day-to-day, and an extra one specially designed for something like swimming or doing athletics.
You might feel lots of different emotions. You might be tearful, angry, fed up or depressed at times. You might think you've lost all your confidence and that you'll never be able to live a normal life or be in a normal relationship. These feelings are normal, and it's important that you get support to help you cope with them. You could talk to:
family or friends
a counsellor, which can be arranged by your nurses
other young people in a similar situation, for example through an online community or a support group.
Our online community has a group for people who are 16-24 and living with cancer.
Things will be tough as you get used to living with the changes in your body, but help is available.
Other people's reactions can be hard to cope with too. You might be worried about what your friends think or how they're going to treat you. The thought of going back into school, college or work can be scary. Even people in your family who you are close to might not know what to say or do. Others might say things that sound stupid or seem hurtful.
Try to choose a couple of really close relatives or friends who you can call on when things get you down. You might also find it useful to talk to someone outside your close circle, like a counsellor. Most people find it helps to talk about how they're feeling or what’s on their mind.
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If you're looking for information about bone cancer in people of all ages, please see our general bone cancer section.