Growing Pains or Cancer?

Signs and Symptoms of Pediatric Bone Cancer
Director, Long Term Follow Up Clinic, Department of Pediatric Oncology
Tuesday, September 27, 2016 - 3:39pm

As kids grow, their muscles, tendons and ligaments grow as well. So when they complain about aches and pains, it’s often due to the rapid pace of their developing bodies.

Two out of every five kids get growing pains, and it happens right around the time of their growth spurts – during the toddler and pre-teen years. It can cause achy thighs, calves and knees.

However, if your child complains about persistent pain or the pain is coupled with other ailments, it might be something more serious.

Symptoms of childhood bone cancers, such as osteosarcoma, vary from child to child, but the first symptom is often bone or joint pain. Initially the pain may come and go, but it gradually becomes constant, often getting worse at night.

When to Call the Doctor

Call the doctor if your child experiences the following symptoms:

  • Prolonged pain throughout the day
  • Persistent pain that continues long after an injury
  • Achy joints
  • Fever
  • Unusual rashes
  • Limping or favoring one leg
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Sluggish and inactive
  • Bone pain that resembles a toothache and is more persistent at night
  • Abnormal swelling
  • Reduced movement of a joint

These symptoms are not always caused by bone cancer. In fact, they are usually caused by a less serious condition. Leg and arm pain is common in growing kids, and it is usually nothing to worry about. But if the pain persists, worsens or if other symptoms are present, you should speak to your child’s doctor.

To recognize Childhood Cancer Awareness month, take a closer look at the top five pediatric cancers and the warning signs for each disease