Unfortunately, there is no confirmed answer to the question 'how to prevent bone cancer.' However, early detection and an understanding of the bone cancer risk factors can surely increase the chances of a successful treatment.
A risk factor is any condition or habit that can increase the chances of developing a particular disease. Some of these risk factors are modifiable, while others are not. However, having these risk factors does not mean that the patient will have bone cancer. Possessing these factors just increases the chances of developing a bone carcinoma.
Here are some bone cancer risk factors that contribute to the growth or development of cancerous cells in patients.
Certain bone disorders and conditions that cause changes or abnormalities in the bone tissue can increase the risk of developing cancer. Here are some of these bone disorders that can increase the risk of bone cancer.
Paget’s disease of the bone is a condition that results in abnormalities in the bone's growth. It also results in weakened or deformed bones that can change the bone's density and structure.
Though Paget’s disease of the bone does not cause cancer, it can increase the risk of developing bone carcinoma, especially osteosarcoma.
Fibrosis dysplasia is a chronic condition that results in the irregular development of fibrous tissue that replaces healthy bone. Again, the abnormalities in the bone due to the fibrous tissue can become a risk factor for bone sarcoma, such as osteosarcoma.
Osteogenesis imperfecta, also referred to as brittle bone disease, is basically a genetic disorder. It hampers the production of collagen, which is a protein responsible for granting strength and forming the structures of the bones.
The issues created in the bone structures due to Osteogenesis imperfecta are also counted among secondary bone cancer risk factors.
Chondroma and osteochondroma are benign tumors that do not lead to the development of bone cancer. However, these tumors can be a risk factor for chondrosarcoma, a type of bone carcinoma.
Exposure to radiation is also counted among the common bone cancer risk factors, as it can hamper the bone cells' DNA. People who suffer from overexposure to radiation, such as people undergoing cancer treatment, are at a high risk of developing bone cancer.
Radiation therapy as a cancer treatment makes use of high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. In addition, the radiation treatment can also damage the healthy cells around the affected area.
Exposure to ionizing radiation from atomic bombs can alter the DNA of healthy cells, which can be a high risk factor for bone cancer.
Radium, a radioactive element, is known to discharge ionizing radiation, which has the ability to cause DNA mutations in cells. This hampering can increase the risk of developing bone cancer.
Plutonium is another radioactive element that is regarded as a possible bone cancer risk factor. It is a toxic radiative material that releases ionizing radiation, which can increase the risk of developing cancer.
Certain genetic conditions can result in unwanted changes in the genes responsible for normal cell division and growth. These changes, in turn, can lead to bone cancer.
Retinoblastoma is a type of eye cancer that is a result of mutations in the RB1 gene, a tumor suppressor gene. Now, patients who suffer from hereditary retinoblastoma possess a copy of this mutation of the RB1 gene in every healthy cell. This condition leads to an increased risk of developing other cancers, such as bone cancer.
Werner syndrome is a genetic condition that leads to the premature aging of certain healthy tissues. Werner syndrome is related to the WRN gene mutation. The WRN gene contributes significantly to DNA repair and genomic stability. However, an unwanted mutation in this gene can also increase the risk of developing bone cancer, especially osteosarcoma.
Li-Fraumeni syndrome is associated with genetic mutations in the TP53 gene. This gene is responsible for preventing tumor development and regulating cell growth. Thus, abnormalities in this particular gene automatically increase the risk of developing bone cancer, such as osteosarcoma.
Rothmund-Thomson syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by mutations in the RECQL4 gene. This gene is responsible for the repair and maintenance of the DNA in cells, and its abnormalities can increase the chances of developing other cancers, including bone cancer.
Bloom syndrome is caused by mutations in the BLM gene, which is again associated with DNA repair and maintenance. Changes in this particular gene can also increase the risk of bone cancer in patients.
Hereditary multiple exostoses result in the development of benign tumors known as osteochondromas. Though these tumors are not cancerous, they can increase the risk of developing secondary bone cancers such as chondrosarcoma.
Here are some lesser-known or even unknown bone cancer risk factors:
The link between previous injuries or fractures and bone cancer is not well established, but there are some points to be considered. For example, repeated injuries can cause inflammation in the affected area, which can become a risk factor for secondary bone cancer. Also, some bone cancers, such as osteosarcoma, can, in rare cases, develop in the bones affected by previous injuries or traumas.
Surgical implants may sometimes lead to allergies or infections in the patient's body, leading to inflammation. However, there is no linked research to show the association between the risk of bone cancer and surgical implants, though there have been cases portraying this link.
The SV40 virus is a kind of polyomavirus that can affect both humans and animals. There have been some studies that have shown a link between the SV40 virus and an increased risk of developing bone cancer.
Though there is no definite way to prevent bone cancer, there are some things that can help in the process.
As smoking not only damages the DNA in healthy cells but also leads to a reduction in the oxygen levels in the blood, it becomes difficult for the weakened or damaged bones to heal. Thus, avoiding smoking is considered one of the most effective potential bone cancer prevention factors.
Though there is no sure diet that can guarantee bone cancer prevention, individuals can increase their intake of certain bone cancer prevention foods. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats, and low-fat dairy products. Some specific bone cancer prevention foods are strawberries, broccoli, oranges, and grapefruit.
Excessive alcohol consumption can damage the DNA of cells and increase the chances of getting bone cancer. Thus, it is advisable to limit the consumption of alcohol to reduce the chances of developing bone cancer.
Regular exercise helps keep bones healthy and maintained, thereby reducing the risk of getting bone cancer. Thus, doctors often recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise as a potential way of bone cancer prevention.
Another effective means of reducing the chances of developing bone cancer is getting checked regularly for any bone infections, trauma, or bone cancer symptoms.
Understanding bone cancer prevention and risk factors is highly helpful for doctors in selecting a relevant line of treatment as per an individual patient's needs and requirements. Also, individuals can take proactive steps to reduce their chances of developing cancer.