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Bone Cancer of the Tibia Symptoms

author image Gregory Waryasz, MD, CSCS
Gregory Waryasz, MD, has been a writer since 2004. His work has appeared in "Dynamic Medicine," "Athletic Therapy Today," the "Strength and Conditioning Journal" and the "Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners." He is an orthopaedic surgery resident at Brown University/Rhode Island Hospital. He has a medical doctorate from Tufts University and is certified as a strength and conditioning specialist.
Bone Cancer of the Tibia Symptoms
The tibia is located in the lower leg between the knee and ankle joints. Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

Bone cancer can affect any of the bones of the body. The tibia is the long bone in the lower leg between the knee and ankle. A cancerous tumor is a body of tissue that grows abnormally fast. The tumor can be a primary bone tumor--meaning it originates in the bone--or a metastatic bone tumor that is spread from cancer in another organ. Common sites of cancer that metastasize to bone are from the prostate, thyroid, breast, lung or kidney.


Pain is a common complaint with any type of bone tumor. The pain is usually described as dull and achy; however, the tumor can be non-painful as well. Pain may occur more at night, as is the case with an osteoid osteoma, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. An osteoid osteoma is a benign bone tumor that typically occurs in younger individuals. Activity may also increase the amount of pain. The pain can occur over the site of the tumor or at the nearby joints. In a bone tumor in the tibia, pain can occur on the shin, at the knee or at the ankle.


Swelling of the lower leg can occur with a tibia bone tumor. The amount of swelling can change from day to day. According to the "AAOS Comprehensive Orthopaedic Review," the swelling can be seen very well on MRI images of the lower leg.

Growing Mass

The presence of a growing mass may be a sign of a bone tumor. This mass can be painful or painless depending on the type of tumor and whether or not it is impinging on other structures. A growing mass can cause nerve compression or bursitis, according to the "AAOS Comprehensive Orthopaedic Review." Bursitis is a painful inflammation of the bursa sac, a fluid-filled sac, that can develop over the bone tumor. The growing mass can be firm, soft, immobile or mobile depending on the type of tumor.

General Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms of fevers, chills, night sweats, fatigue, changes in appetite and recent undesired weight loss are all general symptoms of cancer, according to MayoClinic.com. These symptoms may indicate that the bone tumor is a metastatic lesion and that the primary tumor may be located in another organ.


Fractures can occur in a bone weakened by a tumor, according to MayoClinic.com. These fractures are known as pathologic fractures. Pathologic fractures usually result from minimal trauma or no known trauma. The fracture site can be painful, lead to the inability to move an extremity or cause a deformity in the extremity. Fractures can occur in the tibia near the knee, mid-shin or at the ankle.

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