SUBSEQUENT NEOPLASMS: BONE CANCER

This brochure is a sequel to the brochure Subsequent neoplasms: general. Please read that brochure first before you continue.

This PLAIN summary is based on the PanCareFollowUp guideline about “Subsequent neoplasms” [1], which is based on the consensus of different national guidelines.

PLAIN version 1: 22/11/2023

Subsequent cancer: bone cancer

We need our bones to stay upright, help us move and to protect our organs. Each bone has a hard, calcified layer of bone on the outside. Underneath this hard layer is a softer, spongy bone. In the centre of bigger bones is the bone marrow, where our blood cells are formed. Inside the bone are bone cells, responsible for keeping the bone firm.

Sometimes, bone cells can become malignant. This means that they do not work properly any more and multiply uncontrollably, causing a tumour to grow. When this happens, this is called bone cancer (bone sarcoma).

Only a very few people who have had cancer before develop bone cancer.

Due to treatment of the first cancer, survivors sometimes have a higher risk of bone cancer.

Am I at higher risk of bone cancer?

Anyone, including people who have never had cancer treatment, may develop bone cancer. However, there are some cancer treatments that may increase the risk of having bone cancer as a subsequent cancer later in life.

The following treatment can increase the risk of bone cancer:

  • Radiotherapy. The part of the body treated with radiotherapy is at higher risk of developing bone cancer.

You can find out if you have received radiotherapy by looking at your treatment summary. If you do not have a treatment summary or if you have any questions, do contact your treating hospital.

If you develop bone cancer, it does not always mean that this is caused by treatment for your first cancer. Bone cancer may have other causes.

What are the symptoms and signs of bone cancer?

There are symptoms and signs that can tell you if you might have bone cancer. You might not have these symptoms and signs at the moment, but it is important to be aware of them in case they may develop in the future.

These symptoms and signs may suggest that you have bone cancer:

  • A (sometimes painful) lump.
  • Bone or joint pain (also at night), continuous or in waves.
  • Breaking a bone after a small incident.
  • Difficulty moving part of your body.

These symptoms and signs are often caused by something else. However, early diagnosis and treatment of bone cancer is very important. If you experience any of these symptoms or signs, please contact your general practitioner or follow-up care specialist soon.

I am at higher risk of bone cancer. What tests should I have and when?

If you are at higher risk of bone cancer, we do not recommend regular testing at this point. However, it is important that you are aware of the symptoms and signs of bone cancer. If you have any of these symptoms or signs, your general practitioner or follow-up care specialist may:

  • Do a physical exam.
  • Request an X-ray or MRI.

What happens if I (might) have bone cancer?

If you (might) have bone cancer, your general practitioner or follow-up care specialist will refer you to an oncology team. This team may include, but is not limited to:

  • Orthopaedic oncological surgeon (physician specialised in bone cancer)
  • Medical oncologist (physician specialised in cancer)

The specialist may discuss different treatment options with you.

What else can I do?

Knowing that you may be at increased risk of subsequent cancer can be difficult. Talking to friends and family can be helpful as well as specialist counselling and/or contact with support groups, such as patient organisations. For more information on taking care of your mental health, please read: Mental health problems.

Although we are not sure of its effect on your risk of bone cancer, adopting or maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important. Taking care of your mental health may be beneficial; even small changes to your lifestyle can have a positive impact on both your physical and mental health. For more information on taking up a healthier lifestyle, please read: Health promotion.

It is important that you are aware of the possibility of developing bone cancer and that you know the symptoms and signs. If you have any further questions or if the information in this brochure concerns you, please contact your general practitioner or follow-up care specialist.

Where can I find more information?

You may find more information about bone cancer online. However, it is important to be aware that this information is not always up to date or accurate.

On this website, you can also find more information related to this topic:

Please note

This PLAIN summary is based on the PanCareFollowUp guideline about “Subsequent neoplasms” [1], which is based on the consensus of different national guidelines.

While the PanCare PLAIN information group strives to provide accurate and complete information that is up-to-date as of the date of publication, you can check with your general practitioner or follow-up care specialist if this summary reflects the most up-to-date information available and whether it is relevant for you.

Please do not rely solely on this information. It is best to also seek the advice of a qualified medical practitioner if you have questions regarding a specific medical condition, disease, diagnosis or symptom.

No warranty or representation, expressed or implied, is made concerning the accuracy, reliability, completeness, relevance, or timeliness of this information. PanCare has produced the English version and PanCare is not responsible for the translated versions of this summary.

[1] van Kalsbeek, R. et al. (2021) European PANCAREFOLLOWUP recommendations for surveillance of late effects of childhood, adolescent, and Young Adult Cancer, European journal of cancer. Available at: https://www.ejcancer.com/article/S0959-8049(21)00368-3/fulltext.