Sarcomas of Specific Organs: Risk Factors

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 07/2016

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the factors that increase the chance of developing a STS. To see other pages, use the menu.

A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing cancer. Although risk factors 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.

Most sarcomas do not have a known cause. However, the following factors can raise a person’s risk of developing sarcoma:

  • Previous radiation therapy. People who have received radiation therapy as treatment for a previous cancer have a slightly increased risk of developing a sarcoma later in life. Sometimes it is an angiosarcoma that develops, but osteosarcoma and undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma may also be diagnosed.

  • Genetics. People with certain inherited diseases have a higher risk of sarcoma. These diseases include neurofibromatosis type 1Gardner syndromeWerner syndrometuberous sclerosis syndromenevoid basal cell carcinoma syndromeLi-Fraumeni syndrome, and a specific form of retinoblastoma.

  • Chemicals. Workplace exposure to vinyl chloride monomer, which is used in making some types of plastics, or to dioxin may increase the risk of angiosarcoma. However, most sarcoma is not known to be associated with specific environmental hazards.

The next section in this guide is Symptoms and Signs. It explains what body changes or medical problems this disease can cause. Or, use the menu to choose another section to continue reading this guide.