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What are the signs and symptoms?

These are some signs and symptoms of secondary bone cancer. If you notice any of these symptoms, see your doctor.

bone painThis is often the first and most common symptom. The pain may be a dull, persistent ache. It can get worse with movement and is often worse at night.
fracturesCancer cells can weaken the bones and cause them to break more easily, often with little or no force (known as a pathological fracture).
high calcium levels in the blood (hypercalcaemia)As the bone breaks down, calcium is released into the bloodstream. When calcium builds up in the blood, it may cause severe tiredness (fatigue), a feeling of sickness (nausea), vomiting, thirst, constipation or confusion.
pressure on the nerves in the spine (spinal cord compression)Abnormal bone growth or fractures can press on the nerves in the spine. This may cause back pain, muscle and limb weakness, tingling or numbness of the limbs, difficulty walking, or loss of bowel or bladder control.
low levels of blood cellsSecondary bone cancer can affect the bone marrow, particularly if there is a large amount of spread to the bones. The bone marrow makes blood cells, so the cancer can lead to low levels of blood cells. Symptoms depend on the type of blood cell affected. You may feel tired and breathless, have an increased risk of infections, or bruise and bleed more easily.

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Understanding Secondary Bone Cancer

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This information is reviewed by

This information was last reviewed July 2020 by the following expert content reviewers: Dr Craig Lewis, Conjoint Associate Professor UNSW, Senior Staff Specialist, Department of Medical Oncology, Prince of Wales Hospital, NSW; Dr Katherine Allsopp, Staff Specialist, Palliative Medicine, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Michael Coulson, Consumer; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; David Phelps, Consumer; Juliane Samara, Nurse Practitioner Specialist Palliative Care, Clare Holland House, Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, ACT; A/Prof Robert Smee, Radiation Oncologist, Nelune Cancer Centre, Prince of Wales Hospital, NSW.