Signs and Symptoms of Bone Cancer


Pain in the affected bone is the most common sign of bone cancer. At first, the pain is not constant. It may be worse at night or when the bone is used, for instance, leg pain when walking. As the cancer grows, the pain will be there all the time, and get worse with activity.


Swelling in the area of the pain may not occur until weeks later. It might be possible to feel a lump or mass depending on where the tumor is.

Cancers in the bones of the neck can cause a lump in the back of the throat that can lead to trouble swallowing or make it hard to breathe.


Bone cancer can weaken the bone it's in, but most of the time the bones do not fracture (break). People with a fracture next to or through a bone tumor usually describe sudden severe pain in a bone that had been sore for a few months.

Other symptoms

Cancer in the bones of the spine can press on nerves, causing numbness and tingling or even weakness.

Cancer can cause weight loss and fatigue. If the cancer spreads to internal organs it may cause other symptoms, too. For instance, if the cancer spreads to the lungs, it can cause trouble breathing.

These symptoms are more often due to conditions other than cancer, such as injuries or arthritis. Still, if these problems go on for a long time without a known reason, you should see your doctor.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: November 28, 2017 Last Revised: February 5, 2018

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