Bone cancer is a disease where a cancerous tumor develops in or around a bone that destroys healthy bone tissue. Primary bone cancer begins in any cells of the bone itself, while secondary bone cancer starts elsewhere in the body and spreads to the bones. There are four stages of bone cancer. Stage one is cancer that has not spread beyond the bone. Stage two is more aggressive cancer but has not spread beyond the bone. Stage three is where there are two or more cancerous places within the same bone. Stage four means cancer has spread past bone tissues to other parts of the body. While there is no clear cause of bone cancer, there are factors that increase an individual’s risk including young age, previous radiation therapy, Paget’s disease, familial bone cancer history, hereditary retinoblastoma, and Li-Fraumeni syndrome. While bone cancer signs differ by the bones affected, most bone cancers have several symptoms in common.
Pain In The Bones
Most bone cancer patients will experience pain in the bones due to malignant tumor growth. Bone pain feels like a deep or dull ache in the bone or a region such as the pelvis, ribs, back, legs, and arms. In the early stages of bone cancer, the affected individual may only feel pain when they are active, or during the night hours. As bone cancer progresses to advanced stages, the pain from the tumor becomes more persistent. A malignant bone tumor causes an individual to feel pain because the cancerous cells invade and disrupt the delicate balance of regular cellular activity in the bone, causing the bone tissue to become damaged. Healthy bone is continually being broken down, remodeled, and reconstructed. Malignant cells in the bone cause an interruption in this balance of action between the osteoblasts, cells that build the bone, and the osteoclasts, cells that break old bone down. The result is an excess of bone build-up or extensively weakened bone. The tumor or damage from the malignant mass can stretch the thick membrane covering the bone or the periosteum. The tumor can also stimulate specific nerves in the bone causing pain.
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