The exact causes of primary bone cancer are unknown, and for most people with bone cancer itís not clear why it developed.
Some of the known risk factors for the Primary Bone Cancer are:
- Previous radiotherapy
- Some types of non-cancerous (benign) bone conditions
- Inheriting a faulty gene
Research into possible causes is going on all the time. As many bone cancers occur in teenagers and young people, itís thought that they may be related in some way to changes that happen when bones are growing.
People who have had high doses of radiotherapy to an area that includes the bones have a slightly increased risk of developing cancer in one of these bones. This is still a very small risk and most people who have radiotherapy never develop a primary bone cancer.
Some types of non-cancerous (benign) bone conditions
Having some types of benign bone conditions can increase the risk of particular types of bone cancer.
Pagetís disease of the bone can increase the risk of developing osteosarcoma. Pagetís disease of the bone is a non-cancerous condition that mainly affects people over 50 years of age.
A non-cancerous bone tumour called osteochondroma (or chondroma) can sometimes develop into a bone cancer called chondrosarcoma.
People with hereditary multiple exostoses (HME) have an increased risk of developing chondrosarcoma. HME is a rare condition that causes bony lumps to grow, most commonly in the arm or leg bones. It often starts in childhood and is usually, but not always, inherited.
Inheriting a faulty gene
Most bone cancers are not caused by an inherited faulty gene, but people with certain genetic conditions have an increased risk of developing bone cancer.
People who have an inherited condition known as Li-Fraumeni syndrome have an increased risk of osteosarcoma. Children who have retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer that is caused by an inherited faulty gene, also have an increased risk of developing osteosarcoma.
Sometimes, when people discover they have a primary bone cancer after a knock to their bone, they think that the injury caused the cancer to develop. There isnít clear evidence that injury to a bone can cause bone cancer, but an injury may draw attention to a bone cancer that is already there.
How common is Primary Bone Cancer in India?
Primary Bone Cancer is one of the rare cancers among men, women and children from the Indian subcontinent1.
In India, between the years 2001-2003, across five urban centers - Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bhopal and Bangalore, Ė and one rural center - Barshi, a total of 733 cases of Primary Bone cancer were registered (1.66% of all cancers) for males across all age groups; while 441 cases of Primary Bone cancer were registered (1% of all cancers) for females across all age groups. Considering all men, women and children with all types of cancers together, a grand total of 1,174 cases of Primary Bone cancer (1.32% of all cancers) were registered at the six centers mentioned above, between the year 2001-20032.
The TATA Memorial Hospital (T.M.H.) in Mumbai, India registered a grand-total of 19,127 cases of all types of cancer patients in the year 2006, for men, women and children combined, out of which 347 (close to 2% of the total cases) were diagnosed with the Primary Bone cancer. Out of the total 347 patients diagnosed with Primary Bone cancers, mentioned above at the T.M.H., 232 (67%) were males and 115 (33%) were females3.