Signs and symptoms of bone cancer

Possible symptoms of bone cancer include pain near the tumour, reduced movement or an unexplained broken bone.

About the signs and symptons of bone cancer

The symptoms on this page can be caused by other conditions that are more common than bone cancer. Because of this, it can sometimes take a long time for bone cancer to be diagnosed.

If you have any new symptoms that do not go away, it is important to get them checked. Talk to your GP as soon as possible if you are worried about any symptoms.

We're also here if you need someone to talk to. You can:

We understand that showing any symptoms of what could be cancer is worrying. The most important thing is to speak to your GP as soon as possible. We're also here if you need someone to talk to. You can:

Pain or tenderness

This may start as an ache in the affected area that does not go away. You may have pain at night or when you are resting. It can feel worse during or after exercise. In children, this symptom may be mistaken for a sprain or growing pains.

If you have unexplained bone pain, visit your GP to have it checked.


Swelling near to the affected area of the bone means the cancer may not be noticed until the tumour is quite large. You might not see or feel a lump if the affected bone is deep inside the body.

Reduced movement of a joint or limb

If the cancer is near a joint, you may find it harder to move the joint. Movement in the arm or leg may be affected. If the affected bone is in the leg, it may cause a limp.

A tumour in the spine may press on nerves. This can cause numbness, tingling or weakness in the arms or legs. It can also cause problems controlling the bladder or bowel.

If you have symptoms of a tumour in the spine, you may have spinal cord compression. It is very important to contact a doctor straight away to find out the cause of your symptoms and how they need to be managed.

Broken bone

A bone that has been weakened by cancer may break (fracture) without any warning. Or it may break after a small fall or accident.

Other possible symptoms

Ewing sarcoma may also cause:

  • tiredness
  • weight loss
  • a high temperature or sweats.

About our information

  • References

    Below is a sample of the sources used in our information about primary bone cancer. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at

    European Society for Medical Oncology, ESMO. 2021. Bone sarcomas: ESMOeEURACANeGENTURISeERN PaedCan Clinical Practice Guideline for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Annals of Oncology. S. J. Strauss1 et al. Available at: (accessed July 2023)

    UK guidelines for the management of bone sarcomas, Clinical Sarcoma Research (2016) 6:7. Gerrand C et al on behalf of the British Sarcoma Group. Available at: UK guidelines for the management of bone sarcomas - PMC ( July 2023)

    British Medical Journal, BMJ Best Practice. Osteosarcoma. Last updated May 2022. Last reviewed 27 Jun 2023. Available at: Osteosarcoma - Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment | BMJ Best Practice (accessed July 2023)

  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by senior medical editor Fiona Cowie, Consultant Clinical Oncologist.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.

The language we use

We want everyone affected by cancer to feel our information is written for them.

We want our information to be as clear as possible. To do this, we try to:

  • use plain English
  • explain medical words
  • use short sentences
  • use illustrations to explain text
  • structure the information clearly
  • make sure important points are clear.

We use gender-inclusive language and talk to our readers as ‘you’ so that everyone feels included. Where clinically necessary we use the terms ‘men’ and ‘women’ or ‘male’ and ‘female’. For example, we do so when talking about parts of the body or mentioning statistics or research about who is affected.

Date reviewed

Reviewed: 01 August 2022
Next review: 01 August 2025
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum

Our cancer information meets the PIF TICK quality mark.

This means it is easy to use, up-to-date and based on the latest evidence. Learn more about how we produce our information.