Bone cancer primary or cancer that originates in the bone, is relatively rare, but occurs more often in children than in adults. However, the spread of cancer or metastases to the bones is common in all ages. In fact, some types of cancer usually spread to the bones, such as the cancer of lung, thyroid, prostate or breast cancer. In addition, while cancer can originate or extend to any bone, arms and legs are the most affected. Unlike other types of cancer that are specific in certain organs and named as such according to their location on the body, bone cancer in general refers collectively to sarcomas.
However, there are three different types of primary bone cancer: chondrosarcoma, which usually affects the cartilage of the pelvis, hip or shoulder, osteosarcoma, which occurs in the upper part of the arm or knee, and Ewing’s sarcoma, which normally occurs in the bone or nerve tissue of the legs, arms, pelvis or spine. Of these, osteosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma is more likely to occur in young people between the ages of 10 and 25 years. Chondrosarcoma, moreover, found almost exclusively in elderly patients. Unfortunately, the symptoms of bone cancer do not appear significantly until the disease has advanced. In addition, many types of this cancer develop slowly over a long period of time, which can lead to the patient to think that the symptoms of bone cancer are a condition related to age, such as arthritis.
Other factors that influence the symptoms of bone cancer are its specific location and size of the tumor. The commonest symptom is general pain in the affected bone, which can be described as dull, persistent, or sharp and stabbing. The pain may also be intermittent. Sometimes, a tumor or growth can occur at the location of the cancer without pain. Unfortunately, this also can be ignored in the belief that the growth may be a cyst. Finally, it is not uncommon that the patient does not present any symptom of bone cancer at all. Other symptoms of cancer include unexplained swelling of a limb or joint that may indicate the existence of a tumor. At times, fatigue, fever and weight loss accompanied by symptoms. In addition, the appearance of tumors in the bones can cause an excessive level of calcium that circulates in the bloodstream, producing nausea and episodes of mental confusion. Finally, the affected bone is more susceptible to fractures, which explains why many forms of bone cancer are detected by examining x-rays taken after a fall or injury.