Osteosarcoma Overview

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Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention TOPICS

What are the risk factors for osteosarcoma?

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 Medical Review: 06/13/2014
Last Revised: 01/27/2016