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Coping with primary bone cancer

Being diagnosed with a rare cancer can be frightening. The physical changes after treatment for bone cancer can affect how you feel about yourself (self-esteem) and make you feel self-conscious. It will take time to get used to the differences in how you look and what you can do.

Limb-sparing surgery is a major operation that can leave a scar and make the skin feel tight. If you have an amputation or a lot of bone is removed, you may feel grief and loss. Many people find it helps to talk to a counsellor, psychologist, friend or family member. Ask your treating team or call Cancer Council 13 11 20
to find out about support services in your area.

Download our booklet ‘Emotions and Cancer’

Download our booklet ‘Rare and Less Common Cancers’

After treatment, you will need regular check-ups for several years to confirm that the cancer hasn’t come back and to help you manage any treatment side effects.

How often you will need to see your doctor will vary depending on the type of bone cancer. Check-ups will become less frequent if you have no further
problems. Let your doctor know immediately of any health concerns between appointments.

Over the years, clinical trials have improved treatments and led to better outcomes for people diagnosed with cancer. Talk with your doctor about the latest clinical trials and whether you’re a suitable candidate. For more information, visit Australian Clinical Trials.

Download our booklet ‘Understanding Clinical Trials and Research’

For some people, bone cancer does come back (recur) after treatment. The risk that bone cancer will recur is greater within the first 3 years after  treatment has finished. Treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

In some cases of advanced primary bone cancer, treatment will focus on managing your symptoms and improving your quality of life without trying to cure the disease. Palliative treatment can relieve pain and help to manage other symptoms.

Featured resources

Sarcoma (Bone and soft tissue tumours) - Your guide to best cancer care

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Understanding Primary Bone Cancer

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This information is reviewed by

This information was last reviewed January 2023 by the following expert content reviewers: Prof Peter Choong AO, Orthopaedic Surgeon, and Sir Hugh Devine Professor, St Vincent’s Hospital, and Head of Department of Surgery, The University of Melbourne, VIC; Catherine Chapman, Adolescent and Young Adult and Sarcoma Cancer Specialist Nurse, Division of Cancer and Ambulatory Support, Canberra Hospital, ACT; A/Prof Paul Craft AM, Medical Oncologist, Canberra Hospital and Australian National University, ACT; Belinda Fowlie, Bone Tumour Nurse Practitioner Candidate, SA Bone and Soft Tissue Tumour Unit, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Prof Angela Hong, Radiation Oncologist, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, and Clinical Professor, The University of Sydney, NSW; Vicki Moss, Nurse Practitioner, SA Bone and Soft Tissue Tumour Unit, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; A/Prof and Dr Marianne Phillips, Paediatric and Adolescent Oncologist and Palliative Care Physician, Perth Children’s Hospital, WA; Chris Sibthorpe, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland; Stephanie Webster, Consumer.