How Long Can You Have Bone Cancer Without Knowing (And Why)?

Exact Answer: About 5 Years

Cancer is undoubtedly one of the world’s deadliest diseases. It has various types like skin cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, etc. Out of these many types of cancer, certain people suffer from cancer of the bone, also called bone cancer or osteosarcoma.

Whenever one hears about a cancer diagnosis, the first question that comes to our mind is at what stage it is detected to comprehend the severity of the disease and to know whether it is curable or not. Thus, one might be inquisitive to know how long can a person live with bone cancer without knowing.

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How Long Can You Have Bone Cancer Without Knowing?

The most common sign of bone cancer is to feel pain at the site of the cancerous tumor. At first, it could appear as nothing but with time, it could get worse and become constant. Bone cancer could also cause lumps or swellings in certain patients. Such a type of cancer weakens the bone, and sometimes even causes fractures to develop.

One could live on with a cancerous tumor growing in their bones for several years and be unaware of the situation till it reaches its critical stage. Cancers are one of those diseases that can be diagnosed only after their detrimental symptoms develop and become severe.

Cancer patients have a high chance of living a long and healthy life if their condition is diagnosed and treated in the early stages of the illness when cancer has not yet grown to its fullest potential in the body. People have been known to have lived on for about 5 years without themselves knowing that they have bone cancer.

This invariably delays the detection of cancer inside the body. Thus, such cancers are identified in their last stages from where the reversal of cancerous effects on the body is extremely abstruse and hence the survival rate of cancer patients in their last stage is extremely poor.

ConditionHow Long Can It Be Undetected?
Bone CancerAbout 5 years
Lung CancerAbout 8 years
Skin CancerAbout 2 years

Why Can One Have Bone Cancer Without Knowing For So Long?

Bone cancer is potentially more likely to go undetected in its initial stages as it does not have any major symptoms that could easily be identified through just visual inspection.

As bone cancer forms and grows in the bone that is present inside the body which cannot be seen through the human’s naked eye, it can go undetected for about 5 years and sometimes, even more, making the diagnosis of the diseases difficult and delaying the treatment that could save the person if started at the right time.

Bone cancer has no major noticeable symptoms and thus is said to be asymptomatic. This type of cancer can only be detected through imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), etc. Thus, due to its asymptomatic nature in the early stages, it could only be detected if one gets their regular screenings done.

Therefore, if one is not suspicious about their health condition, such a person could never know that he has bone cancer until it becomes severe and reaches its critical stage.


Bone cancer is one of the many variants of cancer that any person could suffer from. However, it is found that people continue to live on with their life without knowing that they have bone cancer until it reaches its last stage. Bone cancer is not too common and thus, there is a high tendency for it to go undetected for as long as 5 years, and sometimes even more.

The symptoms of bone cancer are not particularly specific to this disease and are misunderstood to be due to other conditions like arthritis or injuries. Still, if anyone experiences any kind of pain, discomfort, uneasiness, or anything unusual that is constant for long and becomes worse day by day, it is vital to see a doctor to become aware of its underlying cause and treat it as early as possible.



Last Updated : 23 February, 2024

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