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What are the risk factors?

The causes of most bone cancers are unknown, but factors that increase the risk include:

Previous radiation therapy (radiotherapy) – Radiation therapy to treat cancer increases the risk of developing bone cancer. The risk is higher for people who have high doses of radiation therapy at a young age. Most people who have radiation therapy will not develop bone cancer.

Other bone conditions – Some people who have had Paget’s disease of the bone, fibrous dysplasia or multiple enchondromas are at higher risk of developing bone cancer. Some studies also suggest that people who have had a soft tissue sarcoma have an increased risk of developing bone cancer.

Genetic factors – Some inherited conditions such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome increase the risk of bone cancer. People with a strong family history of certain types of cancer are also at risk. Talk to a family cancer clinic for more information. Some people develop bone cancer due to genetic changes that happen during their lifetime, rather than inheriting a faulty gene. Most bone cancers are not hereditary.

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This information is reviewed by

This information was last reviewed June 2019 by the following expert content reviewers: Dr Richard Boyle, Orthopaedic Oncology Surgeon, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Dr Sarat Chander, Radiation Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; James Hyett, Consumer; Rebecca James, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Dr Warren Joubert, Senior Staff Specialist Medical Oncology, Division of Cancer Services, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; Kristyn Schilling, Clinical Nurse Consultant – Cancer Outreach Program, St George Hospital, NSW; Prof Paul N Smith, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Orthopaedics ACT.