Symptoms of bone cancer in the leg may include pain and swelling. The weakening of bones from cancer may also cause breaks or fractures and lead to mobility issues.

Additionally, people may experience general symptoms, such as tiredness and weight loss.

Bone cancer can be primary or secondary. The primary type starts in bone tissue, while the secondary type starts in another body part and then metastasizes to the bone. Primary bone cancers are rare, accounting for just 0.2% of all cancers, but the legs are one of the most common locations for bone cancer.

Read on to learn more about the signs and symptoms of bone cancer in the leg.

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Pain at the location of the tumor is the most common symptom of bone cancer.

In the beginning, pain may not be present all the time. It may worsen at night or when a person uses the leg, such as during walking. As the tumor grows, an individual may experience more constant pain that worsens with exercise.

People describe the pain as dull and deep-seated, progressively intensifying over time. Once it worsens, over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers often do not help.

Swelling or a lump may appear in the tumor area, but this may not manifest until after the area becomes painful. The lump may feel soft and warm.

Cancer can weaken bones, but fractures are relatively uncommon. However, they can happen. A fracture that occurs due to a bone tumor typically causes severe pain in a spot that has felt sore for several months.

People may have difficulty moving around, or they might walk with a limp. If the bone tumor is near a joint, it can be hard to use the joint.

As with many other types of cancer, bone cancer can cause tiredness and weight loss. People may also experience fever and sweating.

If bone cancer spreads, it can cause additional symptoms that differ according to the location. For instance, if it metastasizes to the lungs, it can produce breathing problems.

The diagnostic process for bone cancer involves a medical history, physical examination, and the following tests:

  • X-rays: These show the shape, location, and size of a tumor.
  • Imaging tests: If X-rays indicate the possibility of a cancerous mass, a doctor may order imaging tests, such as the following:
    • Bone scan: This involves injecting a small amount of radioactive material into a vein that collects in bones and can be detected by a scanner.
    • MRI: This procedure uses a large magnet linked to a computer to make detailed images.
    • CT scan: This test provides a series of detailed images with a computer linked to an X-ray machine.
    • PET scan: This involves injecting a small quantity of radioactive glucose into a vein. Since cancer cells frequently use more glucose than normal cells, a scanner can locate them in the body.
    • Angiogram: This is an X-ray of blood vessels.
  • Blood tests: These tests look for enzymes that are present in large amounts in people with certain types of bone cancer.
  • Biopsy: This involves the surgical removal of a sample or entire lump of suspicious bone tissue for microscopic examination. A biopsy confirms a bone cancer diagnosis.

If people have a bone fracture for no reason, or if they have other symptoms of bone cancer, they should contact a doctor. As bone cancer is not common, the symptoms are more likely to stem from other conditions, such as arthritis. However, it is best to make sure.

Any physical change that is not typical for a person warrants a medical checkup to determine the cause. It is important not to delay getting an appointment because the earlier a person receives a cancer diagnosis, the better the likelihood of successful treatment.

Symptoms of bone cancer in the leg may stem from the tumor’s location and the body’s general response to cancer. Pain in the tumor area is the most common symptom, but other symptoms may include swelling and fracture. Symptoms due to the body’s general response to cancer may involve weight loss and tiredness.

If cancer spreads, it may cause additional symptoms that depend on the location of metastasis. Early diagnosis is vital to maximizing treatment success, so a person with symptoms should speak with a doctor as soon as possible.