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Osteosarcoma is a cancerous (malignant) bone tumor that usually develops during the period of rapid growth that occurs in adolescence, as a teenager matures into an adult.
Osteosarcoma is the most common cancerous (malignant) bone tumor in youth. The average age at diagnosis is 15. Boys and girls have a similar incidence of this tumor until late adolescence, at which time boys are more commonly affected. There is another peak in incidence among adults in their 60s and 70s.
The cause is not known. In some cases, osteosarcoma runs in families. At least one gene has been linked to an increased risk. This gene is also associated with familial retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye that occurs in children.
Osteosarcoma tends to occur in the bones of the:
This cancer occurs most commonly in larger bones and in the area of bone with the fastest growth rate. Osteosarcoma can occur in any bone, however.
Baker MH. Bone tumors: primary and metastatic bone lesions. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 212.
Gebhardt MC, Springfield D, Neff JR. Sarcomas of the bone. In: Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Niederhuber JE, Kastan MB, McKenna WG, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone, 2008;chap 96.
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