Decorative image


Find out about screening for bone cancer, and who might have it. 

There is no national screening programme because:

  • this condition is very rare, so many people would have unnecessary tests
  • the benefits don't outweigh the costs

What is screening?

Screening means testing people for early stages of a disease before they have any symptoms. For screening to be useful the tests:

  • need to be reliable at picking up cancers
  • overall must do more good than harm to people taking part
  • must be something that people are willing to do

Screening tests are not perfect and have some risks. The screening programme should also be good value for money for the NHS.

Screening for people at high risk

It is helpful to screen people who are at higher risk of primary bone cancer. This includes people with particular bone diseases or genetic conditions that increases the risk of bone cancer. Doctors are aware of these conditions.

If you are at higher risk of developing bone cancer, your specialist will see you in clinic and you are likely to have regular x-rays. People with a genetic condition called Li Fraumeni syndrome have regular screening for cancers.

Talk to your GP if you think you are at high risk of bone cancer.
Last reviewed: 
23 Nov 2017
  • UK guidelines for the management of bone sarcomas
    C Gerrand and others
    Clinical Sarcoma Research, 2016. Volume 6

  • Bone sarcomas: ESMO clinical practice guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
    The ESMO/European Sarcoma Network Working Group
    Annals of Oncology, 2014. Volume 25, Supplement 3

  • Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology (10th edition)
    VT DeVita , TS Lawrence, SA Rosenberg
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2015

Information and help