PRIMARY bone cancer survival rates have not improved in the past 25 years.

The Bone Cancer Research Trust (BCRT) has teamed up with the Royal College of GPs to launch an e-learning module to help doctors spot the symptoms and diagnose patients earlier.

Professor Andy Hall, chairman of BCRT’s independent scientific advisory panel, said primary bone cancer symptoms can include painful bones or swollen joints, which GPs can easily mis-diagnose as a sporting injury or ‘growing pains’.

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He said: “Primary bone cancer is, thankfully, very rare but it is vital that it is diagnosed early to give patients the best chance of survival.

“The Bone Cancer Research Trust is working with GPs and other health professionals to raise awareness of the disease and refer patients for further investigation whenever bone cancer is a possibility, particularly in children and young adults.

“The average length of time it takes for a primary bone cancer patient to receive a correct diagnosis is 16 weeks from the time when the patient first noticed their symptoms.

“A simple X-ray, performed early, can make all the difference."

The two most common types of primary bone cancer are osteosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma which often affect children, teenagers and young adults.

About 550 people in the UK and Ireland are diagnosed each year with primary bone cancer.

During Bone Cancer Awareness Week (October 5 to 12), BCRT will be using its national network of experts and supporters – including many former bone cancer patients – to help improve awareness and understanding of the disease among the public and clinicians.