Bone cancers in children and young adults

What is bone cancer?

Bone cancer (also known as bone sarcoma) develops when the cells of the bone and cartilage grow in an uncontrolled or abnormal way. The cancer can develop in any bone throughout the body, and is different from metastatic bone cancer which has spread to the bones from its original location.

The most common types of bone cancer that affect children and young adults are:

  • Osteosarcoma – affects cells that form bone tissue and commonly occurs in children and young adults with growing bones
  • Ewing sarcoma – develops in the bones or in the soft tissue around the bones

According to the Singapore Childhood Cancer Registry, bone cancers account for 5.9% of childhood cancers in Singapore and are more common in children and young adults aged between 10 and 20 years.

Signs and symptoms of bone cancer

The primary symptom of bone cancer is severe pain in the area of bones or joints that becomes constant over time, especially keeping the child/teen awake at night and does not improve with pain relief medicines (such as paracetamol).

Other symptoms of bone cancer in children and young adults include:

  • Swelling over the affected part of the bone or soft tissue
  • Stiffness or tenderness in the area
  • Issues with movement, such as an unexplained limp
  • Unexplained bone fractures with minimal or no injury
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fever (more common with Ewing sarcoma)

Treatment for bone cancers


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