A young bone cancer sufferer is calling for doctors to be more aware of the symptoms after his own diagnosis was delayed.

Christian Foster, 23, of Bingley, is speaking out during Bone Cancer Awareness Week to raise awareness of the symptoms of primary bone cancer among GPs and the public.

Recent research for the Bone Cancer Research Trust found bone cancers take longer to diagnose than any other type of cancer in young people.

Symptoms such as swollen, painful joints are often attributed to growing pains or sports injuries and are often treated with painkillers or physiotherapy for months before the right diagnosis is made.

Although primary bone cancer is rare, it occurs most often in children, teenagers and young adults. The two most common bone cancers are osteosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma.

Christian was 18, finishing sixth form and looking forward to going to university to study science when he began to suffer an ache in his right leg around the knee cap. “Over the summer holiday the pain just grew worse and worse,” he said.

“I went to the GP and they just said it was a swollen tendon and I should exercise it. I kept going back and the doctors kept saying the same thing – it went on for months and months.”

It was only when Christian’s mother intervened that the real reason for his pain was revealed. “My mum said she was sick of it and took me to Airedale A&E,” he said. “They did an X-ray and they called me back the next day and they told me they were 90 per cent sure I had cancer.

“My mum was with me and the shock we felt was off the scale.

“My mum was unbelievably upset but she is strong and she was there for me.”

Christian was referred to a specialist bone hospital in Birmingham where a biopsy revealed he had osteosarcoma and he embarked on a long and painful course of treatment which involved chemotherapy and surgery. “They did chemotherapy first and that really messed me up,” said Christian. “Then I went down to Birmingham for surgery and the femur that was affected by the cancer was replaced with metal rods in a seven-hour operation.”

He also required two lung operations as the cancer had affected them as well.

“I was a bit grumpy a lot of the time but I just got on with it and I had my mum and dad with me,” he said.

There followed more chemotherapy and the long process of rehabilitation through physiotherapy.

“It did put my life on hold,” said Christian. “Doctors should not use the excuse that they don’t see this cancer often.

“They should know the symptoms because spotting the disease early makes a lot of difference. Once I was diagnosed though everything was amazing and I can’t complain at all about the way I was treated at St James’s Hospital, Leeds, and in Birmingham.

“I now go for check-ups every six months and it is all good.”

Bone Cancer Awareness Week held by the Bone Cancer Research Trust runs until Saturday.