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Bone Cancer Risk Factors: Family History, Paget's Disease, etc.

Risk factors are the inherited or acquired factors that increase the chance of developing cancer in a person. Several epidemiological studies have suggested a number of genetic and environmental factors that may predispose to bone cancer. A knowledge about them helps us to make necessary lifestyle choices.

Following are some bone cancer risk factors:

  • Genetic Cancer Predisposition Syndromes: Some inherited cancer predisposition syndromes have been reported to be associated with a high incidence rate of bone tumor. Following are some examples:

    Li-Fraumeni syndrome (generally caused by a mutation in the p53 tumor suppressor gene or CHEK2 gene) increase the risk of osteosarcoma in children.

    Rothmund-Thomson syndrome (caused by mutations in the REQL4 gene) causes short stature and increase the risk of developing osteosarcoma in children.

    Retinoblastoma – a rare eye cancer (caused by mutations in RB1 gene) is found to be associated in several cases of osteosarcoma.

    Multiple exostoses – a disorder wherein many bumps appear on the bones of a patient (caused by a mutation in any one of the 3 genes EXT1, EXT2, or EXT3) increases the risk of developing chondrosarcoma.

    Tuberous sclerosis (caused by a mutation in either TSC1 or TSC2 gene) raises the risk of chordomas in children.

  • Family history: Apart from the known genetic syndromes, higher incidences of osteosarcoma are observed in individuals with a history of bone tumor in close relatives.

  • Paget’s disease: It is a chronic disorder of bones most commonly observed in elderly people whose bones become heavy, thick, and brittle. It is benign but can lead to the development of osteosarcoma or other bone tumors.

  • Exposure to radiation: Individuals with a history of radiation exposure to their bones, especially at a younger age, are at increased risk of developing bone tumor.

Bone marrow transplantation and history of treatment with alkylating agents have also been reported to increase the risk of developing osteosarcoma.

In the next section, you will read about the symptoms of bone cancer.

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