If you have any symptoms of bone cancer, they need to be checked by your doctor.

What is bone cancer?

Bone cancer, also called primary bone cancer, begins in the bones or cartilage. 

Like the rest of your body, the bones are made of tiny ‘building blocks’ called cells.

Bone cancer begins when these cells grow abnormally into a lump or tumour.

Cancer is a disease of the body's cells. It starts in our genes. Our bodies are constantly making new cells, a process controlled by certain genes. Cancers are caused by damage to these genes. As the damaged cells replicate a lump or tumour is formed. 

Tumours can be:

  • Benign - not cancerous. These do not spread to other parts of the body.
  • Malignant - cancerous


Cancer that begins in the bone is rare. Usually, cancer that begins in other parts of the body spreads to the bone. This is called secondary bone cancer (or advanced bone cancer or metastatic bone cancer or cancer that has spread to the bone/s).

Most bones contain bone marrow, where blood cells are made.

Primary bone cancer symptoms

Signs and symptoms of bone cancer may include:

  • pain in the bones and joints which may be worse at night
  • swelling over the affected part of the bone
  • stiffness or tenderness in the bone
  • unexplained weight loss
  • a fractured or broken bone
  • loss of feeling in the affected limb
  • tiredness

Having these symptoms does not mean you have bone cancer, but it is important to get any changes checked by your doctor.

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Last updated: March 14, 2023