Osteosarcoma Risks and Prevention

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

Osteosarcoma Risk Factors

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

  • Age (children). Osteosarcoma occurs most commonly between the ages of 10 and 19.
  • Genetics. Osteosarcoma may be caused by certain inherited conditions or gene mutations. These inherited conditions include:
    • Li-Fraumeni syndrome
    • Hereditary retinoblastoma
    • Paget disease
    • Diamond-Blackfan anemia
    • Rothmund-Thomson syndrome
    • Bloom syndrome
    • Werner syndrome
  • Radiation. Previous exposure to radiation may increase the chance someone will get bone cancer.
  • Drug therapy. Previous treatment with anticancer drugs called alkylating agents.

Osteosarcoma 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 osteosarcoma.

Osteosarcoma Risk Assessment Program

Recent studies have suggested that certain inherited diseases are associated with increased risk of developing a sarcoma. These include Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Diamond-Blackfan anemia, Bloom syndrome and Paget disease.

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 for specific inherited conditions.

If you are likely to have an inherited cancer syndrome, the choice to pursue genetic testing is yours. Our cancer risk evaluation programs at the Abramson Cancer Center and the Joan Karnell 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.