The cause of bone tumors is unknown. They often occur in areas of rapid bone growth. Possible causes include:
- Genetic defects passed down through families
In most cases, no specific cause is found.
Osteochondromas are the most common noncancerous (benign) bone tumors, and occur most often in people between the ages of 10 and 20.
Cancers that start in the bones are referred to as primary bone tumors. Cancers that start in another part of the body (such as the breast, lungs, or colon) are called secondary or metastatic bone tumors. They behave very differently from primary bone tumors. Multiple myeloma often affects or involves the bone, but is not considered a primary bone tumor.
Cancerous (malignant) bone tumors include:
The cancers that most often spread to the bone are cancers of the:
These forms of cancer usually affect older people.
Bone cancer was once very common among people who made glow-in-the-dark dials using radium paint. The practice of using radium paint was abandoned in the mid-1900s.
Bone cancer is more common in families with familial cancer syndromes.