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Bone Cancer (Sarcoma)

Bone Cancer Symptoms and Risks

Bone cancer symptoms may vary depending on the type and location. By the time you notice symptoms of a sarcoma, the cancer has advanced. 

Bone Cancer Symptoms

Early symptoms of bone sarcoma can be vague, general or easy to miss. In many cases, noticeable symptoms of bone cancer (like a bone tumor) only become apparent once the cancer has reached a more advanced stage. Tell your doctor if you notice a new lump anywhere on your body or a lump that is getting bigger. More than half of bone sarcomas begin as a bone tumor in an arm or leg.

Other signs of bone cancer can include:

  • Swelling, pain or tenderness in affected or adjacent areas
  • Bone weakness, resulting in fracture or limited range of joint motion
  • Weight loss or low-grade fever
  • Fatigue or general malaise
  • Blood in your vomit or stool

Many of these symptoms can also be caused by health conditions that are not sarcoma. Get regular checkups, and tell your doctor if you have any unexplained lumps or changes in your health.

Bone Cancer Risk Factors

While there are some risk factors that could influence the development of bone cancer, most risk factors are not a direct cause of sarcoma. People with multiple risk factors may never receive a bone cancer diagnosis, and others who have no known risk factors do. Some risk factors are preventable and others are outside of your control. It’s important to discuss possible risk factors with your doctor so you can make the best lifestyle choices for your health and well-being.

Most bone sarcomas occur in people with no known risk factors. There may be some genetic link for some types of bone sarcomas. If you have a family history of bone sarcoma, discuss screening and detection options with your doctor. Some noncancerous (benign) bone tumors can lead to osteosarcoma. Other bone conditions, like fibrous dysplasia or Paget’s disease, can increase the risks of developing bone cancer.

Radiation therapy for other cancers is associated with an increased incidence of soft-tissue sarcomas. Some soft-tissue sarcomas (for example, leiomyosarcoma) have been linked to Epstein-Barr virus infection in people with acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Some types of chemotherapy can also increase the risk of developing a secondary cancer, often osteosarcoma.

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