Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that is most often found in the bones of the shin or thigh, near the knee in both cases. It is also possible to contract osteosarcoma in the upper arm near the shoulder. Osteosarcoma is the most common form of bone cancer found in children and young adults. The disease occurs more frequently in men than in women, and those under 25 years of age are particularly susceptible. Because young people's bones are still growing, the risk of cancer is much higher. From low-grade tumors, which may require surgery, to high-grade, which may require a more rigorous form of treatment, this bone cancer can often be rather silent in its symptoms. However, if you know what to look for, you may be able to catch the disease before it has a chance to spread very far.
The first, most common sign of bone cancer is localized pain around the affected area. Many patients describe this pain as a dull ache deep in the bone. This pain can often come at night when you are resting, and vigorous activity and movement can aggravate it. In children and adolescents, the most common form of bone pain is known as growing pains. When children experience sudden growth spurts and get growing pains. As a result, the pain and soreness are typically short-lived, as the bones grow bigger and stronger. The pain of osteosarcoma, on the other hand, results in more lasting pain. The pain will continue to get worse over time and will become more noticeable as the tumor grows.
Depending on where the tumor is located, you may or may not be able to notice swelling in the area. This swelling may not arise for a few weeks after the initial pain symptoms. The swelling may take the form of a lump or mass surrounding the tumor or bone, which can make it difficult to diagnose. As the most common areas for osteosarcoma are in the vicinity of your joints, the swelling and inflammation may hinder their movement causing pain during your normal daily activities.
The pain in the joints commonly affected by osteosarcoma can hinder their movement a great deal. Pain walking or moving around can often lead you to feel the need to sit or lie down for the majority of the day. Of course, this inactivity can also lead to other health complications, including poor cardiovascular health and difficulty with weight management. Decreased mobility is a definite sign that you should seek immediate medical help, as it could signal a larger problem, including the possibility of osteosarcoma.
Cancerous cells in the bone can weaken your overall bone structure. This can often lead to fractures of the bones when under pressure. By the time you start to feel pain, the bone is already weakened. The areas where you feel pain are the ones where fractures are most likely to occur. Full bone breaks are not as common as fractures in osteosarcoma patients but are still possible, particularly after a fall or other injury. If you suffer from osteosarcoma, you should do your best to minimize your risk of injury. Because cancer already weakens your bones, it is far more difficult for them to heal to normal function after a break or fracture.
If you feel like you are over-worked and over-stimulated, it can often seem as though you can never get enough sleep, even after a full night's rest. When fatigue comes from an internal sickness, it occurs because your body is working hard to accommodate fighting off the condition. Symptoms of fatigue usually include a lingering feeling of sleepiness, headaches, dizziness, muscle weakness and irritability. If your reflexes and responses are slow as well, it may be a sign that something more dangerous than a simple lack of sleep is causing your fatigue, and you should see your doctor right away to diagnose the problem.
Unintended weight loss can often be a sign of an underlying medical condition, like osteosarcoma. Sudden weight loss, especially in children, should always be a cause for concern. With bone cancer, weight loss will nearly always be accompanied by some of the other symptoms described here. If you are eating a healthy amount, but still losing weight, visit your health care practitioner as soon as possible to determine the most likely cause.
Your muscles and internal organs need oxygen to survive. Anemia is a condition in which there are not enough red blood cells in your bloodstream. This makes it harder for your blood to carry enough oxygen to deliver throughout your body. If you are anemic, your skin may appear pale or even grey. You will also tire more quickly and feel weaker than you usually do. You may also experience a rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, irritability, and symptoms of jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.
If osteosarcoma affects your spine, it can cause damage to the nerves by pressing on them or tangling them together. Nerve damage often leads to numbness or a tingling sensation, especially in the legs. This is most similar to the feeling commonly called, "pins and needles," resulting from a lack of blood flow to a particular area after sitting in one position for an extended period. In addition to affecting the nerves themselves, a bone cancer tumor on your spine can also drain strength from the rest of your body, resulting in an overall feeling of weakness.
Even if you aren't experiencing any pain, tumors on or in your bones can cause other symptoms. Night sweats and fever are common among those who are fighting off inflammation or infection. This is the body's natural response to warding off illness and should not be ignored. At night, when your body is at rest, you will likely notice any pain or discomfort more than you would during the day when you are distracted by your daily activities. If you wake up in the middle of the night with unexplained pain in the typically affected areas, including the knees and shoulders, you should have them checked by a medical professional right away to diagnose the issue.
Limping or favoring a particular arm can be a sure sign of pain or discomfort. Children especially are not always great at articulating how they are feeling, so it is important to take note of any changes to their physical demeanor and appearance. Look for muscular imbalances, meaning that muscles on one side of the body are more developed than on the other. While small differences are nothing to worry about, as most of us typically favor one side over the other, a drastic difference could indicate an underlying problem with the structure of the limb.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.