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Dr. Mullinax shows pelvic bone affected with osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, usually forms in the long bones in the arms and legs during periods of rapid growth and development. While the condition can occur at any age, it is most frequently diagnosed in preteens, teenagers and young adults. The tumors result from excessive reproduction of the cells responsible for bone formation. Common tumor sites include the upper leg bone (femur) near the knee and the upper arm bone (humerus) near the shoulder.

Although relatively rare, osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer.

Early warning signs of osteosarcoma

In addition to interfering with healthy bone growth, osteosarcoma can destroy existing bone. A red flag is bone pain or tenderness unrelated to trauma, which may be easily misattributed to “growing pains,” particularly in adolescents.

Common symptoms of osteosarcoma

The hallmark sign of osteosarcoma is persistent and unexplained bone pain. While the cancer is in its early stages, the pain may come and go.

What does osteosarcoma feel like?

Many patients describe osteosarcoma pain as a deep, aching discomfort. The pain may intensify at night or during physical activity. Sometimes, it is accompanied by a sensation of warmth or lump that can be felt.

What does osteosarcoma look like?

Because osteosarcoma is an internal bone cancer, it does not have a distinctive external appearance. However, some patients notice swelling, redness or a lump near the affected bone. Additionally, reduced joint mobility may be observed.

Diagnostic images, such as X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, are usually necessary for a physician to visualize the internal bone structure and perform a detailed assessment. In particular, a noticeable change in the shape or structure of the femur or humerus could be a sign of osteosarcoma.

Symptoms of advanced osteosarcoma

As osteosarcoma progresses, its symptoms usually become more pronounced. In addition, some patients experience:

  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Fever
  • A low red blood cell count (anemia)
  • Difficulty walking (if a leg bone is affected)
  • Unexplained bone fractures
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control (if a pelvic bone is affected)

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Call us at 1-888-663-3488 or request an appointment online.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about osteosarcoma signs and symptoms

The following FAQs-related article provides additional information about osteosarcoma signs and symptoms:

Benefit from world-class care at Moffitt Cancer Center

Moffit is proud to be a high-volume cancer center. As a result, the multispecialty team in our Sarcoma Program has acquired unrivaled expertise in diagnosing and treating all types of bone cancer, including osteosarcoma and other relatively rare conditions. We offer the latest diagnostic and treatment options as well as a robust portfolio of clinical trials.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Alexander Lazarides

If you would like to discuss your osteosarcoma symptoms with a specialist in our Sarcoma Program, you can request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or submitting a new patient registration form online. We do not require referrals.