Bone cancer can start in any bone in the body, and is treated with a combination of surgery, radiation treatment or chemotherapy; fortunately, it is a fairly rare type of cancer, affecting approximately 3,500 new patients in 2019
, and causing death in about 1,660. Bone cancer accounts for less than 0.2% of all cancers, and can be broken down into three separate major types, depending on the type of cell where the cancer began.
is the most common type of bone cancer. In this form of bone cancer, the cancerous tumor cells produce bone. It often grows quickly and spreads
to other parts of the body, including the lungs. Risk of osteosarcoma is highest among children and adolescents ages 10 and 19. Males are more likely than females to develop osteosarcoma. Osteosarcoma is most common in children, adolescents and young adults.
Chondrosarcoma is the second most common type of bone cancer, and in this form, the cancerous cells produce cartilage. Chondrosarcoma most commonly occurs in the pelvis, arms or legs, and is typically found in older adults.
Ewing sarcoma tumors are most commonly found in the pelvis, legs and arms of children and young adults.
At this time, there is no known way
to prevent bone cancer. While the causes of bone cancer are not totally known, researchers have identified several factors that are associated with a higher risk of this type of cancer. In honor of July’s designation as Bone Cancer and Sacroma Awareness Month
, here’s the rundown of risk factors for this type of cancer:
A very small number of bone cancers (and particularly osteosarcomas) seem to be hereditary, and are caused by mutations in certain genes
. Chondosarcomas seem to be an inherited condition that causes bumps on a patient’s bones, which can lead to pain and fractures. Chordomas also seem to run in some families, but the genes responsible have not yet been found. If you have a history of bone cancer of any kind in your family, certain genetic tests may help
identify an increased risk.
Paget disease: Paget disease
is a precancerous condition that creates abnormal bone tissues, mostly in patients over the age of 50. This condition makes bones thick, heavy and brittle, making them weaker and likelier to break. While Paget disease is not life-threatening in itself, it can lead to bone cancer in about 1% of patients who have it.
Patients who have been exposed to ionizing radiation (such as the radiation used
in X-rays or CAT scans) may have a higher risk of developing bone cancer. While a typical X-ray is not dangerous, exposure to larger doses of ionizing radiation (as in the radiation therapy used to treat some types of cancer) may increase risk. Non-ionizing radiation, such as the radiation used in microwaves, power lines, and cell phones, does not pose an increased risk
of bone cancer.
Bone marrow transplants:
Osteosarcoma has been reported in some patients
who have received bone marrow or stem cell transplants.
Some bone cancer patients recall an injury to the part of the bone affected by cancer, leading them to believe that the injury is linked to the cancer. This has never been proven, and most doctors do not believe
there is a link between injury and bone cancer risk.