8 Symptoms of Bone Marrow Cancer

Cancer that starts in the marrow of a person’s bones is not very common. Cancer that has spread to the bone marrow from other areas of the body is the more common of the two. However, the signs and symptoms are often very similar between both types, whether it has spread from another area or began in the actual bone marrow. When it begins in the marrow, it is actually growing inside the bones. Because the primary function of bone marrow is to create new blood cells, a broad range of symptoms are associated with this type of cancer.

In addition, there are numerous types of this specific cancer. One of the rarest types is multiple myeloma. This typically affects plasma cells, which are the white blood cells that help the immune system fight diseases and infections. When multiple myeloma is present, cancerous plasma cells essentially eat up healthy, normal ones and weaken or destroy the person’s bones in the process.

Certain non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas are also considered bone marrow cancers. They most commonly begin in the lymph glands, but it is possible for this type of cancer to first appear in the bone marrow as well. This kind of bone marrow cancer primarily attacks white blood cells.

1. Back Pain

Although there are hundreds of reasons for back pain, this symptom is almost always seen with bone marrow cancers. Every patient does not experience severe back pain, but most experience at least some pain or discomfort in their vertebrae. This may manifest in the lower back, neck, or essentially any area in between. In some cases, a person feels pain in the entire spine, while other individuals may only experience this symptom in one or two specific areas. This largely depends on where the largest presence of abnormal cells are found, the severity of the cancer’s progression and whether or not it spread from another area or the bone marrow was the initial site of the disease.

Some patients describe shooting pain, while others develop a dull ache that may worsen over time. If cancer has spread to an advanced stage, the pain may become debilitating. It is also not uncommon for a person to feel back pain when moving his or her legs. This symptom is particularly common among patients suffering from multiple myeloma. In approximately 50 percent of cases, back pain accompanied by fatigue is the first symptom to manifest among bone marrow cancer sufferers.