Symptoms of osteosarcoma

This information has been written for patients, their families and friends, and the general public to help them understand more about osteosarcoma: what it is and the different types. This information is produced in accordance with BCRT's information policy.

Doctors talk about 'presentation' when they describe the symptoms and clinical signs that a patient shows when they first go to the doctor.

Symptoms are what the patient or their parent/carer sees or feels. Clinical signs are what the doctors may see during a physical examination, giving doctors clues about what is wrong with a patient.

What are the symptoms and clinical signs of osteosarcoma?

The most common symptoms are:

  • Bone pain
    This may be intermittent (on and off) at first then becoming more persistent, especially at night.

  • Swelling
    This can be seen if the tumour is on a bone near the surface of the body but in other places, like on the pelvis, it may not be visible.

  • Reduced movement
    Joints can be stiff or unable to move properly, or a limp may develop.

Less common and rare symptoms can include, tiredness (doctors call this fatigue), tingling (pins and needles), weight loss, a high temperature or fever, night sweats and breathlessness. Some patients discover that they have osteosarcoma after they suffer a fractured bone, where the tumour has weakened the bone from the inside.

Symptoms vary from patient to patient and can range in their severity. They may be mild at first, coming on over a period of weeks, or they may appear suddenly.

Some people have symptoms for weeks or months before they are diagnosed with osteosarcoma. This is often because the symptoms of osteosarcoma are quite general and are like those of other illnesses and injuries. Most patients do not actually feel ill until the cancer has been there for a long time.

You can read patients’ and their family’s experiences in the 'My Bone Cancer Story' section.

The authors and reviewers of this information are committed to producing reliable, accurate and up to date content reflecting the best available research evidence, and best clinical practice. We aim to provide unbiased information free from any commercial conflicts of interest. This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. BCRT can answer questions about primary bone cancers, including treatments and research but we are unable to offer specific advice about individual patients. If you are worried about any symptoms please consult your doctor.

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BCRT shall hold responsibility for the accuracy of the information they publish and neither the Scheme Operator nor the Scheme Owner shall have any responsibility whatsoever for costs, losses or direct or indirect damages or costs arising from inaccuracy of information or omissions in information published on the website on behalf of BCRT.

Version 2 produced January 2013
Information will be reviewed in January 2015

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