Bone Cancer

elderly woman speaking to female doctor


There are two main types of bone cancer – primary and secondary. Primary cancer starts in the bones. Secondary cancer starts elsewhere in the body and then travels to the bones. To learn more about specific types of cancer affecting the bones, click here.


The symptoms of bone cancer depend on the size and location of the tumor, but most commonly include:

  • Pain. The pain may come and go and usually seems worse at night. The pain will also usually increase with activity.
  • Swelling. There may also be swelling or a lump in the area of the tumor. This lump may not be noticeable at first.
  • Fractures. Cancer cells can weaken your bones, often leading to a fracture.
  • Weight loss and fatigue. Sometimes bone cancer can cause a person to feel tired. Weight loss is another symptom.

Risk Factors

Anyone can develop cancer of the bones, but the following factors may increase your risk:

  • Bone diseases. People with bone diseases such as Paget disease are at an increased risk to develop bone cancer.
  • Radiation treatment. People who have had radiation treatments in the past for another tumor are more likely to develop bone cancer.
  • Age. Teenagers undergoing a major growth spurt or young adults in their twenties are at the highest risk for primary bone cancer.
  • Bone marrow transplant. Some people who have had bone marrow transplants have later developed bone cancer.

For a detailed explanation of all risk factors, click here.

Treatment Options

Bone cancer can be treated in a variety of ways, including surgery, chemotherapyradiation, and supportive care. Most people with bone cancer will have more than one treatment, depending on your age, health, and the type and stage of your cancer. To learn more about how these treatment methods are used for bone cancer patients, click here.

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