Primary bone cancer is a rare type of cancer that begins in the bones. Around 550 new cases are diagnosed each year in the UK.

This is a separate condition from secondary bone cancer, which is cancer that spreads to the bones after developing in another part of the body.

These pages only refer to primary bone cancer. The Macmillan Cancer Support website has more information about secondary bone cancer .

Signs and symptoms of bone cancer

Bone cancer can affect any bone, but most cases develop in the long bones of the legs or upper arms.

The main symptoms include:

  • persistent bone pain that gets worse over time and continues into the night
  • swelling and redness (inflammation)over a bone, which can make movement difficult if the affected bone is near a joint
  • a noticeable lump over a bone
  • a weak bone that breaks (fractures) more easily than normal

If you or your child are experiencing persistent, severe or worsening bone pain, visit your GP. While it's highly unlikely to be the result of bone cancer, it does require further investigation.

The treatment and outlook will depend on the type of bone cancer you have.

What causes bone cancer?

In most cases, it's not known why a person develops bone cancer.

You're more at riskof developing it if you:

  • have had previous exposure to Radiation during radiotherapy
  • have a condition known as Pagets disease of the bone however, only a very small number of people with Pagets disease will actually develop bone cancer
  • have a rare genetic condition called Li-Fraumeni syndrome, people with this condition have a faulty version of a gene that normally helps stop the growth of cancerous cells

Generally, bone cancer is much easier to cure in otherwise healthy people whose cancer hasn't spread.

Overall, around 6 in every 10 people with bone cancer will live for at least 5 years from the time of their diagnosis, and many of these may be cured completely.

For more detailed statistics broken down by the different types of bone cancer, see thepage on statistics and outlook for bone cancer on the Cancer Research UK website.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 4 Jan 2017