Bone Cancer Symptoms

"Bone cancer" are some of the scariest words you can hear when you are in a doctor's office. As scary as it is, the situation is much easier to manage if you catch it early. To catch it early, you want to go to regular checkups with your doctor.

However, you should also know the main symptoms yourself. That way, if you spot any, you can immediately discuss your concerns with a medical professional.

What are some symptoms of bone cancer?

Here are 11 bone cancer symptoms and what you can do about them (after seeing a licensed healthcare professional), starting with one of the most noticeable signs...

11. Bone Pain

What it is

Bone pain exudes from the middle of your bones. It can be almost anywhere in the body where you have a bone.

Why this condition causes it

When you have bone cancer, there are tumors that grow from the bone and into the nerves around them. When the tumors press on the nerves, it activates the nerves, thus causing pain signals to be sent to the brain.

What it feels like

Bone pain feels deep and can be quite excruciating. It is generally a chronic pain that can continue for years.

How to spot it

You won't need to try hard to spot bone pain; you should feel it right away. Why? Because the pain feels different than a topical pain, or pain that is clearly caused by an external problem.

How to manage

When you feel the pain, you will want to manage the pain with medication. Go to a doctor to get narcotics or muscle relaxers.

When the pain is sudden and intense, it might be related to the following sign of bone cancer...

10. Fracture

What it is

A fracture is when the bone actually breaks. It can happen in one spot or several spots.

Why this condition causes it

Bone cancer deteriorates the bones, making them weak. So, when too much weight is applied to a bone, it will break since it is no longer strong enough to sustain the weight.

What it feels like

You will feel a sudden, very sharp pain around the location of the fracture.

How to spot it

There are a number of ways to identify a fracture.

  • First, there will be a significant amount of pain involved.
  • Next, you may even see that the pained area is seriously deformed.
  • In some extreme cases, the bone may even protrude out of the skin.

How to manage

You need to go to the doctor as soon as possible. There, the doctor will set the break or preform surgery if necessary. After the surgery, you will need to rest and possibly go through physical therapy to help it heal.

Unfortunately, this next symptom is hard to physically spot...

9. Fatigue

What it is

Fatigue is a general listlessness and lack of energy. It can be so bad that some people aren't even able to even get out of bed.

Why this condition causes it

Cancer takes a serious toll on the body. The fatigue comes from the cancer tearing down the body, eating up nutrients that the other cells need to survive. Without these nutrients, those cells will die, causing fatigue.

The cancer can also release hormones that make you feel exhausted.

What it feels like

It's more than just feeling sleepy. Fatigue is constant, excessive tiredness and lack of energy.

How to spot it

You will spot it when you start napping all day or not leaving the bed. If you are able to get out of bed but notice that you are excessively tired—and that tiredness doesn't go away after several days, even after plenty of sleep—it should be a cause of concern.

How to manage

To help manage fatigue, you should eat foods with lots of protein and calories to give you energy, like nuts and granola bars.

Fortunately, this next symptom is much easier to spot visually than fatigue...

8. Swelling

What it is

Swelling is the inflammation of an affected area.

Why this condition causes it

Cancer causes swelling when it affects the lymph system.

What it feels like

Visually, you oftentimes notice when one part of your body seems different than it normally does. You also might feel some throbbing in the swollen area.

How to spot it

Swelling is extremely easy to spot. Simply look at the affected area. If you can't see it easily, use your mirror. You should see the swelling caused by inflammation. In some cases, there may even be accompanying redness.

How to manage

Manage swelling with ice packs and by moving. If you move, it can cause increased blood flow to the affected area and reduce the swelling. You can also take a OTC medication with anti-inflammatory properties.

While this symptom is no fun, the next one can take your breath away—literally...

7. Trouble Breathing

What it is

Trouble breathing is when you can't take in as much oxygen as you normally do when breathing. The lack of oxygen will cause you to breathe heavier and may cause serious complications.

Why this condition causes it

Bone cancer can spread to internal organs. Some of the first organs to be affected when this happens? The lungs. This spreading is what can cause issues with breathing.

What it feels like

You will feel like the simple act of breathing is incredibly difficult. Some describe it as being underwater and unable to breathe while others liken it to trying to breathe through a thick cloth. In some cases, it's possible to panic about your inability to breathe, too. This panic will only make breathing more difficult, though.

How to spot it

You can spot trouble breathing when you get winded from simple tasks, such as walking to the other room. You may also notice that you need to take more breaks while doing things you were normally able to do without any issues.

How to manage

In order to manage your breathing, the first thing to do is to quit smoking (if you're a smoker). You should also do your best to move—aka, exercise. Doing so can strengthen your lungs. Just be sure to consult with a doctor first about any changes in exercise, as it's possible to take on too much too soon.

However, your breath might not be the only thing you'll lose due to cancer...

6. Weight Loss

What it is

Weight loss, as the name suggests, is when you lose weight. Generally speaking, this symptom will develop quickly and dramatically.

Why this condition causes it

Some patients find themselves losing weight before they even undergo treatment. However, the main reason most people with cancer lose weight is as a side effect of chemotherapy.

What it feels like

Weight loss can make you feel lethargic and move a little more slowly than normal. Your appetite may disappear, and you may notice that you're not eating very much during the day. You may also look like you aren't getting the proper nutrition you need.

How to spot it

The easiest way to catch your weight loss is to weigh yourself regularly. Pay attention to how much you are losing and how often. You can also see it when you look in the mirror or how your clothes fit.

How to manage

You can manage your weight by taking care of the nausea that might be causing you to eat less. Start with medicine designed for this purpose (after clearing it with a doctor). Once you get your appetite back, focus on foods high in fat but also loaded with nutrients (again, clear these dietary changes with a doctor).

Making sure to eat—and eat well—is important for fighting the following symptom as well...

5. Fever

What it is

A fever is when your body temperature gets too high. Anything over 100 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a fever for adults.

Why this condition causes it

Many foreign invaders (germs, bacteria, etc.) can't survive in high temperatures. So, one of the first things your body will do in an attempt to fight illness is to raise its own temperature, thereby trying to kill the illness with high heat. We know this heat as a fever.

Unfortunately, a fever cannot attack cancer effectively.

What it feels like

You will feel quite warm to the touch as you get a fever, which is often accompanied by overall body discomfort.

How to spot it

You can spot a fever by taking your temperature with a thermometer. You can also spot it by touching your forehead with the back of your hand to see if it feels warm.

How to manage

  • You want to cool yourself down when you have a fever. For that reason, use ice packs on your head.
  • You should take active steps to help your body out by resting. Be sure to sleep so your body can conserve as much energy as possible.
  • Furthermore, give your body lots of healthy food to keep it energized and drink lots of water to stay hydrated.

You should go to the doctor if the fever doesn't go away after a couple of days or if it gets dangerously high.

Fevers are no fun. However, you might notice them occurring often if you develop this next symptom...

4. Lowered Immune System

What it is

The immune system is the bodily system that fights off illness and disease. A lowered immune system means that someone's body cannot fight off infection as efficiently as it should, meaning they are more likely to get sick.

Why this condition causes it

Your immune system will be extremely preoccupied with the cancer. That means it won't be able to tend to other things you must fight, like a common cold that wouldn't otherwise affect you.

What it feels like

You will feel sick in general a lot more. For example, you may get the sniffles or a sore throat more easily than you did before. If you aren't careful, these illnesses can become serious.

How to spot it

You can spot a low immune system by noting how often you get sick. The sooner you spot this symptom, the better.

How to manage

Naturally, you want to go to the doctor to make sure your illness doesn't result in serious complications.

At home, you need to make sure you use hand sanitizer and stay away from people who are sick. You should also eat healthy foods. Why? Because when you eat healthy food, you are giving your body the nutrients and energy it needs to fight the illness. That means foods loaded with antioxidants, like berries, are great dietary additions.

While a weakened immune system can be hard to visually spot, this next symptom is easy enough to see with the naked eye...

3. Excessive Bruising

What it is

Excessive bruising is when you start to bruise easily. In some cases, you might not even know why or when you developed the bruises.

Why this condition causes it

Bone cancer develops in close proximity to blood vessels. That means cancerous tumors can cause blood vessels to break, which creates bruises.

What it feels like

Your body may feel more tender due to constant bruising. Pain may even be possible, especially when pressure is applied to fresh bruises.

How to spot it

You can spot the bruises just by looking at the tender areas on the body. If you can't see a certain part of your body, have a loved one look for you.

Now, a couple of bruises aren't necessarily a reason to freak out. However, if the bruises just keep appearing, it can be a sign of a serious problem.

How to manage

The best way to manage this symptom? Go to the doctor—this isn't something that will go away on its own. Additionally, avoid activity that involves a lot of physical contact, which can reduce—but not eliminate—the amount of bruising you experience.

The following symptom can make you especially prone to bruising...

2. Anemia

What it is

Anemia occurs when there aren't enough red blood cells in the body. Importantly, these cells carry oxygen to body tissues.

Why this condition causes it

Bone cancer naturally affects the bones, and bones make and store blood cells, including red blood cells. Therefore, having bone cancer can impede bone functionality in many ways, including red blood cell creation and storage.

What it feels like

Symptoms of anemia include:

  • Pale skin
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Leg cramps

How to spot it

You can go to a doctor and have them run a simple test to see if you are anemic.

How to manage

One of the main ways people treat their anemia is to take iron pills or eat iron-rich foods like spinach, tofu, dark chocolate, and eggs. This extra iron can help increase red blood cell count. In some cases, a doctor may recommend medication or a blood transfusion.

The most noticeable symptom of all?

Of course, perhaps the easiest-to-spot sign of bone cancer is...

1. Large Mass(es) in Limbs

What it is

Cancer naturally causes tumors, which can visibly show as large masses. There may be one or many, and they can all vary in size.

Why this condition causes it

Bone cancer can cause masses when tumors get especially large. Namely, the tumors may initially develop in the bone, but, as they get bigger, they'll "poke out" in noticeable ways.

What it feels like

How the mass feels depends on exactly where the tumor is located. However, these growths are typically quite uncomfortable. In some cases, they may be painful if located on or near a joint.

How to spot it

If you can't already feel these masses, you may begin to notice them visually when looking at yourself.

How to manage

Unfortunately, tumors typically require surgical removal. Your doctor may also suggest chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.

Now, the treatment will depend on a number of variables, so you and your doctor will need to create a plan together. If you found the tumors early enough, you'll have a better chance of working through it.

What's next?

Think you have any signs of bone cancer? What should you do next?...

Final Thoughts

When you notice one or more of these symptoms, it's time to go to the doctor's office immediately. There, a doctor can answer all of your questions and get you on a treatment plan, if necessary.

Catching cancer early is key to increasing odds of survival.

Bone cancer, like all cancer, is best managed when caught early. And, in order to catch cancer early, you need to know the signs. Read up on the symptoms of bone cancer and then examine your own health to see if you could potentially have this condition.

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