Bone Cancer

About the condition

Bone cancer is rare, with only 600 cases diagnosed in the UK every year. Bone cancer occurs when the genetic material of cells in the bone become damaged or changed, producing mutations that affect normal cell growth and division. The abnormal cells then replicate, causing cancer. If undetected, the cancer can spread beyond the bones and move to other parts of the body.

There are many different types of bone cancer, all of which are extremely rare, but the four most common are:

  • Osteosarcoma: the most common type of bone cancer. It usually develops in teenagers and young adults in the larger bones such as the thigh bone (femur) or the shin bone (tibia).
  • Ewing’s sarcoma: most common in teenagers, although it can also develop in adults, and usually develops in the pelvis, thigh bone or shin bone.
  • Chondrosarcoma: usually develops in adults aged between 30 and 60, and mostly affects the pelvis, thigh bone, upper arm bone, shoulder blade and ribs
  • Spindle cell sarcoma: similar to osteosarcoma in terms of its symptoms and treatment, but it affects older adults aged 40 or over.


The main symptom of bone cancer is persistent bone pain. This usually begins with tenderness in the affected bone, which progresses to a constant ache that often gets worse at night or when the bone is in use.

Less common symptoms of bone cancer include:

  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • unexplained weight loss
  • sweating; usually at night
  • swelling and redness around the affected bone
  • a noticeable lump on or around the affected bone

Bone pain that persists for more than three days is unlikely to be the result of growing pains, and while it is unlikely to be bone cancer it is important that the symptom is investigated.

If any of these symptoms apply to you or if you have any concerns about similar symptoms, see your doctor. Alternatively you can book an appointment with one of our specialists by completing this form online or by calling 020 8247 3351.


If you’re referred to CCL for diagnosis, your consultant or oncologist will advise you on which tests are relevant to your individual symptoms. Because bone cancer is so rare, it can be difficult to diagnose. The tests for this cancer usually include:

  • A physical examination of the affected area
  • A blood test
  • A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan
  • An X-ray
  • A Computerised Tomography (CT) scan
  • A bone scan
  • A core needle biopsy
  • An open biopsy


At CCL, patients with bone cancer are treated by an experienced multidisciplinary team. This team works together to create a treatment plan to suit the individual needs of the patient. The treatment protocol for bone cancer varies a great deal depending on the stage of the disease.

Treatment options include:

Support Services

At CCL we provide support that caters to both the physical and emotional needs of the patient, before, during and after treatment.

We offer a wide range of services for patients, as well as their loved ones, designed to make a very difficult time as easy as possible, and to give our patients the best treatment and support possible. Our support services include counselling, specialist physiotherapy, group sessions and much more. You can find the full range of our support services here.

As treatment for bone cancer could leave you with decreased mobility or dealing with a limb amputation, we have dedicated specialists on hand to help you readjust to the physicality of life. We’ll be with you every step of the way.

Book now

If you have any questions about bone cancer or would like to book an appointment with one of our bone cancer specialists, complete this form online or call 020 8247 3351.


Cancer Centre London

Parkside Hospital

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