Sunday, January 13, 2008

How to Recognize the Symptoms of Bone Cancer


Bone cancer is a disease in which malignant tumors invade the bones. You should learn to recognize the more common symptoms of the disease. Persistent bone pain and lumps or bumps on the bones are symptoms that should be investigated with your doctor.


Difficulty: Moderate



Step One

Know that the most common symptom of bone cancer is pain. The most common place for the pain is in the knees, but it can also occur in other bones and joints. Sometimes, this pain will increase at night.

Step Two

Know that other symptoms may also include stiffness and swelling. If the tumor is near a joint, fever, fatigue, anemia and weight loss may be symptoms. However, there may not be any of these symptoms.

Step Three

Learn that bone fractures and bone weakness can also be indications of bone cancer. The cancer might only be found when an X-ray reveals it after a fracture.

Step Four

Be aware that if symptoms of bone cancer are present, a blood test will usually be given to check if further investigation is warranted. The test will look for the presence of alkaline phosphatase, an enzyme that indicates a lot of bone growth is taking place. By itself, this enzyme does not prove the presence of cancer, since anyone with growing bones will also have it in abundance.

Step Five

Expect to be given test scans in order to verify the presence of bone cancer. These tests may include X-rays, CT scans, MRIs and PET scans.

Step Six

Understand that bone cancer can only be accurately diagnosed by a biopsy. Symptoms only indicate further testing is needed. Because most tumors in bones are benign, a biopsy will be needed. There are three different types of biopsy--two are performed with needles and one is performed with an incision.

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