Cancer symptoms: Unexplained pain is the ‘earliest symptom’ that gets ‘often mistaken’

Tom Parker speaks about his cancer treatment in 2021

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info spoke with Hussain Abdeh, pharmacist from Medicine Direct, about the warning signs of bone cancer. The tricky aspect of this diagnosis is that the main symptom “is often mistaken” for other conditions. Here’s what to look for.

Mr Abdeh said: “Pain can be a symptom of various types of cancer, affecting various parts of the body depending on the type of cancer you are suffering from.

“However, pain is a very common symptom of bone cancer.”

He explained that unexplained pain can be one of the “earliest” symptoms of the condition.

What’s worse, you might not link this to bone cancer as pain is often associated with other health problems.

The pharmacist continued: “It is often mistaken for symptoms of arthritis or a sprain or strain, initially.

“The pain will normally become more severe and persistent as the cancer progresses.”

How often does bone cancer pain appear?

Unfortunately, the pain associated with bone cancer can be “persistent” which can lead to discomfort.

Mr Abdeh said: “Normally, the pain will begin as tenderness in the bone that can be exacerbated when doing a strenuous activity.”

Strenuous activity describes the likes of exercise or heavy lifting.

He continued: “If the affected bone happens to be close to a joint, the swelling may make it hard for you to walk, possibly causing you to walk with a limp.

“However, as the cancer progresses, this ache can become chronic and persist even during periods of rest.”

Bone cancer can even result in your bone weakening to “the point where it breaks”. This can occur after an injury that wouldn’t “normally” cause a break.

What parts of your body can signal this symptom?

The expert explained: “Bone cancer is most common in the long bones of the legs or upper arms, although it can occur anywhere on the body.”

What are other symptoms of bone cancer?

Apart from unexplained bone pain, other warning signs include:

  • Lump on or around the bone
  • Redness and inflammation
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Losing weight for no apparent reason.

While sweating is not a common cancer sign, certain cancers, including bone cancer, present with this. The pharmacist explains it’s “most common” to occur at night.

When to visit a doctor

Mr Abdeh advised: “If you have been experiencing bone or joint pain for no obvious reason for more than a few weeks, you should make an appointment to see your doctor.

“Like any cancer symptom, it is important to get your symptoms checked.”

From surgery to chemotherapy there are different treatments available to target this condition.

However, your treatment will depend on your individual case and factors, such as how far the cancer has spread, the NHS explained.

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