What Does Bone Pain From Cancer Feel Like?

Reviewed on 4/15/2021

Bone pain from cancer can be due to any type of cancer that forms or spreads in the bone. It may be due to primary bone cancer or secondary bone cancer.
Bone pain from cancer can be due to any type of cancer that forms or spreads in the bone. It may be due to primary bone cancer or secondary bone cancer.

Bone pain from cancer can be due to any type of cancer that forms or spreads in the bone. It may be due to primary bone cancer or secondary bone cancer. Secondary bone cancer, also known as metastatic bone cancer, is the one that has spread (metastasized) from another organ to the bone. Primary bone cancer is true bone cancer, which means that the cancer originated in the bone itself.

Whatever be the case, bone pain from cancer may be aching, throbbing, or stabbing in nature. It starts suddenly and worsens at night or due to activities; for example, if cancer is in the bones of the leg, jogging can bring on the pain. With time, as the cancer spreads in the whole bone or deeper, the pain becomes persistent and does not go away. Other signs and symptoms of bone cancer include:

Bone pain can also be a sign in other conditions not caused by cancer, such as osteoporosis. It is recommended to consult with the doctor to know the condition that is responsible for the bone pain.

What causes bone cancer?

A metastatic bone cancer results from the spread of the cancerous cells from any other organ of the body. The most common organs include the prostate, breast, and lung.

What exactly causes primary bone cancer is unknown. However, doctors have recognized certain factors that can increase your risk of getting it. These include:

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How is bone cancer diagnosed?

Doctors generally rule out all other conditions associated with bone pain before they reach the diagnosis of bone cancer. To know the location and size of the tumor, they will order imaging tests, such as:

A bone biopsy will confirm the bone cancer. Also, it will let the doctor know what type of bone cancer it is and how aggressive it is. A biopsy is a procedure of removing pieces of tissue from the suspected bone. This can be done via a needle inserted into the skin to reach the bone or via surgery that involves making an incision through the skin to remove the tissue sample from the bone.

What is the treatment of bone cancer?

The treatment of bone cancer varies with people. Doctors need to consider certain factors before deciding on a treatment plan. These include:

  • The type of cancer
  • The stage of the cancer
  • Your overall health
  • Your preferences

The treatment of bone cancer involves surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Depending on the factors mentioned above, doctors may plan surgery and administer chemotherapy or radiation therapy after the surgery. Sometimes, only surgery or surgery along with chemotherapy may also be planned.

Surgery in bone cancer involves removing the cancerous portion from the bone and a small amount of adjacent healthy bone tissue.

Radiation therapy involves passing a beam of high-energy waves through the cancerous area of the bone. This therapy destroys the tumor and shrinks it.

Chemotherapy uses strong anticancer drugs, delivered intravenously (IV) or given in the form of pills to kill cancer cells. It may only work for certain types of bone cancer and not for others.

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References
Mayo Clinic. Bone Cancer. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bone-cancer/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350221

American Cancer Society. Signs and Symptoms of Bone Cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/bone-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html

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