Causes and Risk Factors of Bone Cancer
While bone cancer does not have an obviously defined cause, researchers have identified numerous factors that increase the possibility of developing these tumours. Some people can have a higher than average threat for bone cancer. Most cancers are the result of many risk factors. But sometimes bone cancer develops in people who don’t have any of the known risk factors. A risk factor is something that increases the risk of developing cancer. There are sufficient proofs that the following factors increase the risk for bone cancer.
I Genetic Conditions
Genetic Conditions to Develop Osteosarcomas
A few bone cancers (especially osteosarcomas) appear to be hereditary and are caused by defects (mutations) in certain genes. Below mentioned hereditary conditions increase the risk of bone cancer.
i. Retinoblastoma (called familial retinoblastoma): It is a rare eye cancer that occurs in children. People who have the inherited form of retinoblastoma as children have a higher risk of developing bone cancer. This risk is even higher for people who were given both chemotherapy and radiation therapy as part of their treatment for retinoblastoma.
ii. Li-Fraumeni Syndrome greatly increases the risk of developing several types of cancer, including bone cancer.
iii. Werner Syndrome is a very rare condition that causes the body to age very rapidly after puberty. People with Werner syndrome usually develop bone cancers, often at the ankle, during their mid-30s.
iv. Rothmund-Thomson Syndrome causes short stature, skeletal problems and skin rashes. People with this genetic condition have a higher risk of developing osteosarcoma, especially in childhood or adolescence.
v. Bloom Syndrome is characterized by dwarfism, rash, immunodeficiency and the risk of developing different types of cancer, including bone cancer.
vi. Hereditary Multiple Exostoses (HME) is a rare condition that causes many non-cancerous lumps (called exostoses) to grow on the bones. These lumps can be painful and cause bones to deform or break. People with HME have a slightly higher risk of developing bone cancer later in life.
Genetic Conditions to Develop Chondrosarcomas
i. Multiple exostoses (sometimes called multiple osteochondromas) syndrome is an inherited condition that causes many bumps on a person’s bones. These bumps are made mostly of cartilage. They can be painful and deform and/or fracture bones. Patients with this condition have an increased risk of chondrosarcoma.
ii. An enchondroma is a benign cartilage tumor that grows into the bone. People who get many of these tumors have a condition called multiple enchondromatosis. They have an increased risk of developing chondrosarcomas.
Genetic Conditions to Develop Chordomas
Chordomas seem to run in some families. Patients with the inherited syndrome tuberous sclerosis, which can be caused by defects (mutations) in the genes seems to have a high risk of chordomas during childhood.
II Paget Disease
Bone cancer (usually osteosarcoma) develops in about 1% of those with Paget disease, usually when many bones are affected. Paget (PA-jet) disease is a benign (non- cancerous) but pre-cancerous condition that affects one or more bones.
It results in formation of abnormal bone tissue and is mostly a disease of people older than 50. Affected bones are heavy, thick, and brittle. They are weaker than normal bones and more likely to fracture (break).
Bones that have been exposed to ionizing radiation may also have a higher risk of developing bone cancer. Exposure to large doses of radiation such as, radiation therapy to treat cancer can cause a new cancer to develop in one of the bones in the treatment area.
Exposure to radioactive materials such as radium and strontium can also cause bone cancer because these minerals build up in bones.
IV Other Factors
i. Radium paint is used on the dials of watches and faces of clocks. Workers who used their lips to bring the paintbrushes to a point have a high risk of bone cancer.
ii. Exposure to plutonium can increase the risk for bone cancer. People who work or live near plutonium production plants and around nuclear weapons factories have a higher risk of bone cancer.