In most cases, the cause is unknown. Osteosarcoma occurs most frequently in periods of rapid bone growth at younger ages. One explanation is that cells in rapid proliferation may be more exposed to neoplastic transformations causing the disease.
- In rare cases, sarcomas can develop in previously radiated areas.
- Patients with Ewing's sarcoma have an increased risk for radiation-induced bone and soft tissue sarcoma compared to other types of solid tumors occurring in pediatric ages.
- Persons who have received considerable amounts of isotopes causing alpha particle ionizing radiation in the bone marrow and bone tissue are at higher risk for developing osteosarcoma.
- Chondrosarcoma can develop in benign bone and cartilage tumors, but otherwise this is the exception for sarcomas.
- Mutations in the TP53 gene lead to an increased risk for multiple cancer forms including sarcoma.
- Children with retinoblastoma lack the tumor suppressor gene RBI localized on chromosome 13q14. The incidence of osteosarcoma for these patients is 500 times greater than the normal population.
- Patients with Paget's disease in the bone have an increased risk for osteosarcoma.