What's On

  • Written by Nina Jackson

Bone cancer is a type of cancer that occurs when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably in the bone tissue. This type of cancer is relatively rare, accounting for less than 1% of all cancers. Bone cancer can develop in any bone in the body, but most commonly occurs in the long bones of the arms and legs.

There are several types of bone cancer, including osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma, and malignant fibrous histiocytoma. The bone cancer causes are not entirely understood, but several risk factors can increase a person's likelihood of developing this disease.

Causes of Bone Cancer

The exact cause of bone cancer is not fully understood, but several known risk factors can increase a person's likelihood of developing the disease. Some of these risk factors include:

Age: Bone cancer is more common in people over the age of 40.

Radiation Exposure:
Exposure to high levels of radiation, such as during cancer treatment, can increase the risk of developing bone cancer.

In some cases, bone cancer can be caused by inherited genetic mutations that increase a person's risk of developing the disease.

Paget's Disease:
Paget's disease is a bone disorder that can increase the risk of developing bone cancer.

Bone Marrow Transplant:
People who have had a bone marrow transplant are at an increased risk of developing bone cancer.

Other Medical Conditions:
Certain medical conditions, such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome, can increase a person's risk of developing bone cancer.

Symptoms of Bone Cancer

The symptoms of bone cancer can vary depending on the location and type of cancer. Some common symptoms of bone cancer include:

Pain: Pain is the most common symptom of bone cancer. The pain can be constant or intermittent, and it may worsen at night or with activity.

Swelling or a lump may develop in the affected area.

Bone cancer can weaken the affected bone, making it more susceptible to fractures.

Fatigue is a common symptom of cancer in general and may be present in people with bone cancer.

Unintended Weight Loss:
Unintended weight loss can occur in people with bone cancer.

Diagnosis of Bone Cancer

The diagnosis of bone cancer usually begins with a physical examination and medical history. The doctor may order imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, or bone scans, to help confirm the diagnosis. In some cases, a biopsy may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis of bone cancer.

Treatment of Bone Cancer

The treatment of bone cancer depends on several factors, including the type and stage of the cancer and the person's overall health. Treatment options may include:

Surgery: Surgery is the most common treatment for bone cancer. The goal of surgery is to remove the cancerous tissue while preserving as much healthy bone as possible.

Radiation Therapy:
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. It may be used before or after surgery, or as a standalone treatment.

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be used in combination with surgery or radiation therapy.

Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapy uses drugs that target specific proteins or genes that are involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells.

Immunotherapy uses the body's immune system to fight cancer cells.


Bone cancer is a rare but serious disease that can affect people of any age. The exact causes of bone cancer are not fully understood, but several known risk factors can increase a person's likelihood of developing this condition. These include a history of radiation therapy, certain genetic conditions, and certain lifestyle factors like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Early diagnosis and treatment of bone cancer are crucial for successful outcomes. Therefore, it's essential to seek medical attention if you experience any persistent bone pain or other concerning symptoms. With appropriate medical care, many people with bone cancer can achieve positive outcomes and lead fulfilling lives.

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