Bone Cancer Causes and Risk Factors

In most cases, the cause for bone cancer is unknown and the disease often occurs in patients who do not have identifiable risk factors. Sometimes, a genetic (inherited) mutation of the p53 tumor suppressor gene is linked to the development of bone cancer.

Li-Fraumeni syndrome is a rare inherited disorder that increases the risk for developing osteosarcoma and other types of cancer, especially in children and young adults.

Other genetic risk factors include the following:

  • Multiple exostoses (also called multiple osteochondromas; causes bumps on the bones that may be painful and cause deformities and fractures)
  • Paget disease (chronic disease that results in deformed or enlarged bones)
  • Retinoblastoma (cancer of the retina; usually occurs in children)
  • Rothmund-Thompson syndrome (very rare condition; also causes a unique skin rash, sparse hair, short stature, and teeth and nail abnormalities)

Additional risk factors for bone cancer include radiation therapy (e.g., to treat cancer), especially at a young age or at high doses, and bone marrow (stem cell) transplant.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 11 Sep 2006

Last Modified: 02 Sep 2015