Presentation of bone tumours: clinical findings and initial management of patients (2021)

Type of publication:
Journal article

*Green N.M.; Abas S.; Sajid S.; Cribb G.L.

Orthopaedics & Trauma; Jun 2021; vol. 35 (no. 3); p. 108-114

Bone tumours are uncommon diagnoses and there is often a delay from first presentation to a healthcare professional (HCP) to definitive diagnosis and management. Patients may present to secondary care in a number of ways. Patients may present acutely with pathological (or impending) fractures, patients may present as urgent 2-week referral from primary care or patients may present with incidental findings on radiological investigations. A thorough history and examination is essential, followed by radiological investigations. Common clinical findings include pain, which is usually the main reason for patient presentation to an HCP. Other reasons include limp or loss of function of limb, swelling or lump, or pathological fracture. As part of the work-up, it is important to ask about constitutional symptoms, past history of malignancy and family history of known syndromes. Plain radiographs are vital for diagnosis. The patient's age is important for the differential diagnosis. The location, morphology and how the tumour is affecting the bone, periosteum and soft tissues are key to the diagnosis. For patients presenting with bone lesions, it is essential to follow the bone sarcoma referral guidelines so that patients are promptly diagnosed and treated.