Symptoms of bone cancer

Bone cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages. Signs and symptoms often appear as the tumour grows and causes changes in the body such as pain or a lump. Other health conditions can cause the same symptoms as bone cancer.

The most common symptom of bone cancer is pain in a bone or joint that doesn’t go away and may be made worse by exercising. The pain may be worse at night.

Other signs and symptoms of bone cancer include:

  • swelling or a lump that can be felt over a bone
  • difficulty moving or using a limb (for example, a limp when walking)
  • a bone that breaks because it is weakened by the cancer (called a pathological fracture)

Rare symptoms of bone cancer may include:

  • fatigue
  • sweating
  • fever
  • weight loss

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society. Bone Cancer. 2016.
  • Gerrand C, Athanasou N, BrennanB, et al . UK guidelines for the management of bone sarcomas. Clinical Sarcoma Research. 2016: 6:7.
  • Mavrogenis AF, Ruggieri P . Therapeutic approaches for bone sarcomas. Heyman D, (ed). Bone Cancer: Primary Bone Cancer and Bone Metastases. 2nd ed. San Diego, CA: Academic Press; 2015: 34: 407–414.
  • O'Donnell RJ, Dubois SC, Hass-Kogan DA . Sarcomas of bone. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 91:1292–1313.
  • Samuel LC . Bone and soft-tissue sarcoma. Yarbro CH, Wujcik D, Holmes Gobel B (eds.). Cancer Nursing: Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning; 2018: 46:1243-1277.