Skip to nav Skip to content

Patient complaining about bone pain

Osteosarcoma is the most common form of bone cancer and is most often found in teenagers. The first signs of osteosarcoma are pain and swelling in the affected bone, with symptoms often becoming more severe at night. Additionally, if the tumor is in the leg, a limp or other walking difficulties may occur. These symptoms may be intermittent while the cancer is in its early stages, and because pain and swelling in the limbs are a normal occurrence in children and teens, it can be difficult to recognize the symptoms of osteosarcoma as an indication of cancer. If you or your child is showing signs of osteosarcoma and symptoms persist over the course of several weeks, promptly schedule an appointment with your physician for further testing.

Other signs and symptoms of osteosarcoma

While pain and swelling are often the earliest and most common signs of osteosarcoma, this malignancy can cause a number of other symptoms, including:

  • A bump, depending on where the tumor is located
  • Redness and warmth at the site of the tumor
  • Anemia
  • Fever
  • Exhaustion
  • Unexplained weight loss

Less commonly, osteosarcoma can lead to a bone fracture when the tumor has caused a bone to weaken to the extent that it breaks. Those who have experienced this have described it as sudden, severe pain following a prolonged period of soreness.

Signs and symptoms of osteosarcoma in adults vs. children

Bone cancer tends to produce the same symptoms in children as it does in adults. With that being said, because children tend to be more active than adults, it may be more difficult to spot a problem.

For example, if a child plays sports (especially contact sports), there’s a good chance that they frequently come home with bumps and bruises, and their parent might understandably attribute their complaints to an injury sustained at practice or during a game. On the other hand, if an adult leading a relatively inactive lifestyle begins experiencing bone pain and swelling, they’d be more likely to take notice of it. As such, it’s important that parents remain vigilant about the additional osteosarcoma signs and symptoms listed above.

When bone cancer symptoms warrant further testing

While there is currently no widely recommended screening method for osteosarcoma, most cases are found at an early stage, before the cancer has spread. As with other cancers, osteosarcoma often has more viable treatment options when detected early. At Moffitt Cancer Center, our osteosarcoma experts can determine if diagnostic services are needed based on the symptoms a patient is experiencing. If further tests are required, Moffitt offers a full spectrum of diagnostic services for osteosarcoma, including surgical biopsies, core biopsies and imaging scans. In the event cancer is found, patients will receive individualized treatment plans and the supportive care services they need to cope with the challenges of receiving a cancer diagnosis.

If you are showing signs of osteosarcoma and would like to be evaluated by a Moffitt physician, call 1-888-663-3488 or fill out a new patient registration form online—we’ll be sure to connect you to one of our cancer experts. You do not need a referral to schedule a consultation.


American Cancer Society: Signs and Symptoms of Osteosarcoma