The exact cause of most osteosarcomas is not known. But we do know that certain risk factors are linked to this disease. A risk factor is something that affects a person’s chance of getting a disease. Different cancers have different risk factors.
So far, lifestyle-related factors (like bad diets, lack of exercise, or obesity) have not been linked to osteosarcoma in children or in adults.
Risk factors for osteosarcoma
Age: Risk is highest in teens and young adults, but it is also higher in people over 60.
Height: Children with osteosarcoma are usually tall for their age.
Gender: Osteosarcoma is more common in males than in females.
Race/ethnicity: Osteosarcoma is slightly more common in African Americans than in whites.
Radiation to bones: Young people who were treated with radiation for an earlier cancer have a higher risk of osteosarcoma in the same area later.
Certain bone diseases: People with certain non-cancer bone diseases have an increased risk of getting osteosarcoma:
- Paget disease of bone
- Multiple hereditary osteochondromas
Certain cancer syndromes: People with certain rare, inherited cancer syndromes have an increased risk of getting osteosarcoma:
- Li-Fraumeni syndrome
- Hereditary retinoblastoma (a rare childhood eye cancer)
- Rothmund-Thompson syndrome
- Bloom syndrome
- Werner syndrome
- Diamond-Blackfan anemia
It is important to keep in mind that for most people with osteosarcoma, the cause of their cancer is not clear.
Last Revised: 01/27/2016