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by Malcolm Bedell July 25, 2019

6 Ways You Could Be at Greater Risk for Bone Cancer

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.
 
Osteosarcoma 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:
 
Genetic disorders: 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.
 
Most bone cancers are caused by genetic mutations that occur during a patient’s lifetime, rather than by inherited DNA mutations. While these mutations may be linked to radiation or cancer-causing chemicals, they most often occur for no apparent reason.
 
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.
 
Radiation: 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.
 
Injuries: 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.
 
Remember, having a risk factor, or even having several risk factors, does not mean you will eventually be diagnosed with bone cancer; most people with bone cancers do not have any obvious known risk factors.

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