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Bone Sarcoma Risks and Prevention

Most risk factors for bone sarcoma, like age and family history, cannot be prevented. If you feel you are at risk, you may benefit from consulting with a risk assessment specialist within one of Penn Medicine's cancer risk evaluation programs.

Bone Sarcoma Risk Factors

Risk factors affect the chance of getting bone sarcoma. Having a risk factor, or even several, does not mean that someone will get cancer.

There are different kinds of risk factors. Some factors, like age or race, can't be changed. Here are some risk factors for bone sarcoma.

  • Age (children). Osteosarcoma, a type of bone sarcoma, occurs most commonly between the ages of 10 and 19.
  • Age (adults). Chondrosarcoma, a type of bone sarcoma, occurs mostly in older adults. Risk increases with age.
  • Genetics. A very small number of bone sarcomas may be caused by certain inherited conditions or gene mutations. These inherited conditions include:
    • Li-Fraumeni Syndrome
    • Von Recklinghausen's Disease
    • Retinoblastoma
  • Radiation. Previous exposure to radiation may increase the chance someone will develop bone sarcoma.

Contrary to what some people think, injuries to the bone do not cause bone cancer.

Bone Sarcoma Prevention

While it is always good to maintain a healthy weight and to quit smoking or using tobacco, currently, there are no known lifestyle changes that can prevent bone sarcoma.

Bone Sarcoma Risk Assessment Program

Recent studies have suggested that certain diseases are associated with increased risk of developing a sarcoma. These include Li-Fraumeni Syndrome, Von Recklinghausen's Disease, and retinoblastoma.

Genetics is the science that looks at how traits (such as eye color) are passed down from parents to their children through genes. Genetic testing is a process in which the inherited genetic material, called DNA, is carefully tested for alterations. DNA is obtained from a simple blood test. Certain families may benefit from genetic testing.

If you are likely to have an inherited cancer syndrome, you should talk to your doctor about genetic testing. Our cancer risk evaluation programs at the Abramson Cancer Center provide education about the benefits, limitations, and potential drawbacks of genetic testing to help you make the decision that is right for you.