Pain and tenderness are usually the first symptoms of bone cancer, according to the University of New Mexico Cancer Center. The American Cancer Society describes the pain as intermittent at first, and it could be worse at night or when the bone is in use, such as when walking.
Bone cancer stretches the membrane that covers the bone, called the periosteum. This stretching causes the pain, according to UNMCC, or it can be caused by the stimulation of the nerves within the bone. Eventually the pain is constant. It increases with use, with the area near the cancer swelling weeks later, states the American Cancer Society.
A fracture of no apparent cause, called a pathological fracture, is less common as an early symptom. These fractures are sometimes caused by bone weakness at or near the site of the cancer, states UNMCC.
Bone cancers that occur near nerves, such as in the spine or neck, can pinch the nerves and cause tingling, weakness or numbness, or cause a lump in the back of the neck that makes swallowing or breathing difficult, states the American Cancer Society. Weight loss and fatigue are other symptoms. The ACS recommends seeing a doctor if symptoms persist for prolonged periods for no known reason. As of 2015, there are no tests used to detect bone cancer before it causes symptoms.