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Cancer Keys

Bone sarcoma and the symptoms

Published: 26th July 2022

Bone sarcoma is rare; with around 650 diagnoses in the UK each year. Bone sarcomas account for just 0.2% of all cancer diagnoses. Incidence rates are highest in people over 75 years of age, however, there is also a peak in younger patients aged 10-19.

Bone sarcoma can affect any bone, but most cases develop in the legs and upper arms. There are several different type of bone sarcoma, the most common types of bone sarcoma are: Chondrosarcoma (37%), Osteosarcoma (30%), Ewing sarcoma (14%), and Chordoma (6%).


The symptoms of bone sarcoma can vary depending on the size and location of the tumour. The most common symptoms are bone pain (particularly at night), a mass or swelling, and restricted movement in a joint. Bone sarcomas can often be mistaken for sports injuries or growing pains, particularly in children and young adults.

Common symptoms

  1. Pain – patients might experience pain or tenderness that occurs non-stop, even when they are resting. Patients often feel that the pain gets worse at night-time when they are in bed. Patients may also experience referred pain that originates in a different area of the body to where the tumour is situated.
  2. Swelling – patients might have some swelling across their body; however, it is common NOT TO be able to see or feel a lump.
  3. Issues with mobility – patients might struggle to move around, for example they might find it difficult to walk and walk with a limp.

Less common symptoms

  1. Fatigue – patients might explain how they have been feeling more tired lately, despite having a lot of rest.
  2. Fever – a patient might have a high temperature, or sweats.
  3. Fracture – patients might have a pathological fracture which has been caused by a weakened bone.
  4. Weight loss – patients might have unexplained weight loss.

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