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Am I at Risk for Primary Bone Cancer?

There is really no way to know for sure if you're going to get primary bone cancer. Certain factors can make you more likely to get it than another person. These are called risk factors. However, just because you have one or more risk factors doesn't necessarily mean you will get primary bone cancer. In fact, you can have many risk factors and still not get primary bone cancer. Or, you can have few or no known risk factors and still get it. Many people diagnosed with primary bone cancers have no obvious risk factors.

These are some factors that put you at higher risk for primary bone cancer. Knowing that you are at risk for primary bone cancer means that you can take steps to try to catch it in its early stages. That’s when it’s easiest to treat. You may be at higher risk if you identify with any of the following statements:

I have a family history of genetic syndromes or rare cancers.

Some kinds of bone cancer, especially osteosarcomas, appear to be linked to hereditary diseases. For example, if you or your child has Li-Fraumeni syndrome or Rothmund-Thomson syndrome, you or your child may have an increased risk of getting bone cancer. Children who have the inherited form of a rare eye cancer called retinoblastoma are also at greater risk. These situations are rare, though. Doctors have still not discovered all of the genes that are linked to bone cancer.

I have Paget's disease.

This is a bone disease that mostly affects people ages 50 and older. It causes abnormal bone tissue to form. This makes brittle, thick bones, which are weak and prone to fractures. It is not cancer, but it can lead to bone cancer in a small number of severe cases, typically osteosarcoma.

I have had radiation therapy to treat another cancer.

Exposure to large doses of radiation increases your risk for developing primary bone cancer. This is especially the case if you were treated at a young age or had a high dose of radiation. 

I have multiple overgrowths of bony tissue or I've had benign bone or cartilage tumors.

Having a genetic condition with bumps of bony tissue or benign bone or cartilage tumors can increase your risk for chondrosarcoma. Your doctor can tell you if you have any of these conditions.

I have had a bone marrow transplant.

In a very small number of cases, having a bone marrow transplant has been linked to developing osteosarcoma.

Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Welch, Annette, MNS, OCN
Date Last Reviewed: 11/30/2013
© 2013 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.
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