Cancer symptoms: Top 14 early signs to look out for
Cancer occurs when abnormal cells divide uncontrollably, potentially spreading to surrounding tissue.
As a result, symptoms of cancer typically depend on where in the body the disease has started.
But in some cases the signs might not present in a way you would expect.
The NHS warned this could be the case with bone cancer, a “rare” form of the disease that affects around 600 people a year in the UK.
Primary bone cancer refers to cancer that starts in the bones, which is different to secondary bone cancer where the disease spreads to the bones.
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One of the main symptoms, as could be expected, is bone pain.
The NHS explains: “Pain caused by bone cancer usually begins with a feeling of tenderness in the affected bone.
“This gradually progresses to a persistent ache or an ache that comes and goes, which continues at night and when resting.
“Any bone can be affected, although bone cancer most often develops in the long bones of the legs or upper arms.”
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However, the health body warns this sign can be “wrongly mistaken” for arthritis in adults and growing pain in children and teenagers.
But there are three less obvious symptoms that can occur.
- A high temperature
- Unexplained weight loss
- Sweating, particularly at night.
The NHS advises speaking to a GP if you are worried about any of these symptoms, or if you experience worsening bone pain.
It can also result in other symptoms that affect the bones.
“Some people also experience swelling and redness (inflammation) or notice a lump on or around the affected bone,” the NHS says.
“If the bone is near a joint, the swelling may make it difficult to use the joint. This may make it difficult to walk, and you may walk with a limp.
“In some cases, the cancer can weaken a bone, causing it to break (fracture) easily after a minor injury or fall.”
If your doctor suspects you could have bone cancer they might investigate using X-rays or a biopsy.
And if a diagnosis of bone cancer is confirmed there are various options for treatment.
These include surgery to remove part of the bone, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
It is not known exactly what causes bone cancer but there are certain things thought to raise your risk, including:
- Previous radiotherapy treatment
- Other bone conditions, such as Paget’s disease of the bone
- Rare genetic conditions, such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome
- A history of certain other conditions, including retinoblastoma and umbilical hernia.
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