What are the signs & symptoms of bone cancer in the shoulders?
The upper arm bone near the shoulder is a frequent site for some types of bone cancers. There are many signs and symptoms that are used to diagnose bone cancers, but not one of them alone can indicate the disease.
To complete the whole picture and give a proper diagnosis, patient history, laboratory tests and radiological tests are necessary.
Pain is a common complaint from people with bone cancer. They typically feel a dull, achy pain that often wakes them at night. This pain may worsen with activity. Sometimes pain can be severe if injury occurs to a bone that already has a tumour. For instance, a fracture that occurs at the site of the tumour, such as on the humerus near the shoulder, can mean excruciating pain for the patient.
- Pain is a common complaint from people with bone cancer.
- Sometimes pain can be severe if injury occurs to a bone that already has a tumour.
Fever of unknown origin should be carefully monitored. Sometimes tumours can cause fever as the body tries to fight infection. Fever might seem insignificant, but if it continues unabated, it's time to find the underlying cause.
Night sweats commonly coincide with fevers. Patients who experience night sweats wake from a restless sleep to find themselves drenched in sweat. One incident like this could be insignificant, but further episodes warrant a visit to the clinic.
The area around the upper arm or shoulder may feel tender to the touch. Sometimes people attribute the tenderness to all the lifting, exercise or extra yard work they did that week. But if the feeling doesn't go away after a few days or so of rest, it could be time to get it checked.
Swelling at the arm bone near the shoulder is a sign of possible bone cancer. Tumours and fractures will cause the surrounding tissue to swell. If there are no other circumstances that may have caused the arm to swell, get it checked.
If you examine your upper arm, shirt off, in the mirror and notice redness around where the pain is, this could be a symptom of bone cancer. If there is no reason that the arm could be red, make an appointment to have it looked at.
A bone that suddenly snaps or fractures with little cause is an indication that something is wrong. Often the site of the fracture is where the tumour lies. For instance, if you throw a ball and the arm fractures, the X-rays might show more than just a break.
Unexplained weight loss is sometimes a symptom in bone cancers. Unexplained weight loss occurs without intention and without holding back on food intake.
Erin Moseley is an advocate for science education. Since 1985, she has written numerous technical, user and training manuals for major corporations, public agencies and universities. She holds a Bachelor of Science in geology.