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A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing cancer. Although risk factors can often influence the development of cancer, most do not directly cause cancer. Some people with several risk factors never develop cancer, while others with no known risk factors do. However, knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your doctor may help you make more informed lifestyle and health care choices.
The following factors may raise a person’s risk of developing bone cancer:
Genetics. Children with familial retinoblastoma (an eye cancer) have an increased risk of developing osteosarcoma.
Previous radiation therapy. People who have had radiation treatment for other conditions have a higher risk of developing bone cancer at the site of the radiation therapy. The majority of radiation therapy-caused bone cancers are osteosarcomas, but other types may occur.
Chemotherapy. Some drugs, including alkylating agents and anthracyclines, used to treat cancer may increase the risk of developing a secondary cancer, usually osteosarcoma.
Benign tumors or other bone conditions. Paget’s disease may cause osteosarcoma. Other noncancerous bone diseases, such as fibrous dysplasia, may increase the risk of osteosarcoma.
Currently, there is no known way to prevent bone cancer. Early detection offers the best hope for successful treatment, so people with risk factors are encouraged to visit the doctor regularly and talk with him or her about it. Still, most bone cancer occurs in people with no known risk factors.