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 sometimes takes a long time for bone cancer to be diagnosed.

If you are worried about any symptoms you have, talk to your GP.

Pain or tenderness near the tumour

This may start as an ache 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, see your GP to have it checked.

Swelling near the affected area of bone

Swelling may not show up until the tumour is quite large. You might not see or feel a lump if the affected bone is deep inside the body tissues.

Reduced movement

If the cancer is near a joint, you may find it harder to move the joint. Movement in the arm or leg (the limbs) 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 is called spinal cord compression. It can cause numbness, tingling or weakness in the arms or legs. It can also cause problems controlling the bladder or bowel.

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 symptoms

If you have Ewing sarcoma, it may also cause tiredness, weight loss, and a high temperature or sweats.

How we can help

Macmillan Cancer Support Line
The Macmillan Support Line offers confidential support to people living with cancer and their loved ones. If you need to talk, we'll listen.
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