Dr Chetan Anchan

Orthopedic Surgeon And Oncologist

M.S. (ORTHO.), D. ORTHO., F. C. P. S.

Blogs | 27 January 2023

Causes of Bone Cancer

biopsy tests for cancer

When there is the abnormal and unregulated growth of cells in a bone, leading to a mass or tumor tissue, it is called bone cancer.

These tumors are classified as sarcomas. Bone cancer may develop in any bone in the body, although it is most usually seen in the pelvic bone or long bones in the legs or arms, such as the femur, shinbone, or upper arm. It’s unusual for cancer to start in the bones.

Causes of Bone Cancer

Most people believe that hereditary factors cause bone cancer, yet there are no such factors since they may affect anybody.

Bone cancer occurs for no apparent cause in more than 99% of cases.

Although experts are unsure what triggers bone cancer, they have discovered correlations between the disease and other variables.

The most critical cause is radiation or medication exposure while undergoing treatment for other malignancies. Though this is not always the case, certain bone tumours are caused by diseases handed down through families.

Rare Causes of Bone Cancer

The following are some of the more unusual causes of bone cancer:

  • Chemical Exposure :

Certain chemicals and toxic materials have been linked to increased cancer risk. Asbestos, nickel, cadmium, radon, vinyl chloride, and benzene are a few carcinogens.

These carcinogens may enhance your risk by acting alone or combined with other carcinogens.

  • Radiation Exposure :

Radiation exposure may lead to bone cancer. If you’ve ever received radiation to a bone, you’re more likely to get primary bone cancer.

Those who have received heavy doses of radiation at a young age are at the greatest risk. 

  • Genetic Issue :

If you have Li-Fraumeni syndrome, you’re more likely to have a variety of malignancies, including bone cancer. The Li-Fraumeni syndrome is inherited. A hereditary gene deficiency causes it.

Hereditary retinoblastoma is a kind of eye cancer that occurs in youngsters. Defective genes are also to blame. Children with this gene abnormality are more likely to develop osteosarcoma.

HME (hereditary multiple exostoses), a rare genetic disease, may increase the chance of developing chondrosarcoma later in life.

Types of Bone Cancer

Bone cancer is divided into two types:

  • Primary Bone Cancer:

This is a form of bone cancer where the cancer begins in itself. This can be of various types depending on the nature of the cell involved.

The following are examples of primary bone cancers:

  1. Chondrosarcoma
  2. Chordoma
  3. Ewing’s sarcoma
  4. Fibrosarcoma
  5. Malignant fibrous histiocytoma
  6. Osteosarcoma
  7. Other sarcomas

Multiple myeloma is a blood malignancy that may cause one or more bone tumors.

  • Secondary Bone Cancer:

They occur when cancer extends from another part of the body to the bone. Most malignancies have the potential to expand to the bones.

People with breast and prostate cancer, on the other hand, are at a very high risk of acquiring secondary bone cancer. 

These are the types of bone cancer that affect adults the most often.

How to diagnose bone cancer?

Apart from blood tests following diagnostic tests may be required:

  • CT scans :

These may reveal whether or not cancer has spread and how far it has gone.

  • X-Rays :

Most X-rays will reveal bone malignancy. An X-ray of the chest may also reveal if the disease has gone to the lungs.

  • Biopsy :

A biopsy may be requested to grade and stage a tumour and determine if it is benign or malignant.


Compared to other forms of cancer, cancer that starts in the bones is rare. It may start elsewhere in the body and spread to the bones. 

The kind of bone cancer you have and how soon it is identified might impact your prognosis.