LIFESTYLE
07/08/2018 10:23 BST | Updated 07/08/2018 15:12 BST

Bone Cancer Symptoms And Treatment Explained

Barry Chuckle's eldest brother said the veteran entertainer had bone cancer prior to his death.

Barry Chuckle’s eldest brother Jimmy Patton has revealed the 73-year-old ‘ChuckleVision’ entertainer died after suffering with bone cancer. He told The Sun his brother had fought a long battle with the disease, which then spread to his lungs (also known as secondary bone cancer).

Primary bone cancer is the name given to cancer that has started in a bone but hasn’t yet spread. It is very rare, making up about 1% of all initial presenting cancers, however greater awareness can lead to earlier diagnosis which in turn impacts survival.

It’s thought around 75% of people diagnosed with primary bone cancer survive their cancer for one year or more after diagnosis, while 50% survive for five years or more.

Ollie Millington via Getty Images
Barry Chuckle passed away on 5 August.

Symptoms of bone cancer

There are three main types of bone cancer: Ewing Sarcoma, Chondrosarcoma and Osteosarcoma, the latter of which is the most common. 

Dr Kenny Livingstone, a registered GP and founder of ZoomDoc, tells HuffPost UK some of the early signs of bone cancer might include lethargy, weakness and bone tenderness. According to Cancer Research UK, bone pain might often be worse when you’re in bed at night. 

Once the bone tumour enlarges, swelling over the affected bone might be felt. Other symptoms might include problems moving around, a high temperature (fever), and weight loss, even if you haven’t changed your diet.

“Sometimes the first sign may be a fracture of the affected bone as they are weakened as a result of the tumour itself,” says Dr Livingstone. “Working previously in A&E and urgent care centres I have picked up a few incidentally and it was often not the reason why the patient presented.

“I previously treated a patient in his early 20s, after he hurt his leg during a bad tackle playing football. The discomfort persisted - so he decided to attend for an X-ray which luckily picked up the early signs of his osteosarcoma.”

Treatment

Treatment for bone cancer will often depend on the type of cancer, its position in the body, whether it’s spread or not, as well as a person’s general health.

“A biopsy will usually differentiate exactly which type of cancer it is and the treatment options may include a combination of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and in many cases surgical excision of the bone so as to remove the entire tumour,” says Dr Livingstone. “In some cases this may involve removing an entire limb so as to provide the best chances of survival.”

It’s usually possible to avoid removing an affected body part completely, according to NHS Choices, however one in 10 people might have to have the area amputated.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are used to treat bone cancer in multiple ways. Sometimes one or the other is offered, while other times patients might be offered a combination of both. If done before surgery, they can help shrink the tumours therefore making an operation easier. They might also be recommended after surgery to prevent cancer from coming back. In cases where the bone cancer is terminal, they might be used to control symptoms.