The exact causes of most bone cancers are unknown as of 2014, according to the American Cancer Society. Risk factors such as inherited genetic mutations, exposure to radiation, multiple exostoses syndrome and Paget disease may contribute to the development of bone cancer.
Some inherited forms of bone cancer are caused by genetic mutations, adds the American Cancer Society. Multiple exostoses syndrome, which is inherited, causes bumps to form on the bones. Children with inherited syndromes, including Rothmund-Thomson syndrome and Li-Fraumeni syndrome, have a higher risk of developing osteosarcoma, which is a type of bone cancer. Paget disease is a precancerous condition that results in the development of abnormal bone tissue, and bone cancer affects about 1 percent of people with Paget disease. Exposure to large doses of radiation, such as radiation therapy to treat cancer, can cause bone cancer. Exposure to radioactive materials, including radium and strontium, can result in bone cancer because these materials accumulate in the bones.
To evaluate and diagnose bone cancer, doctors perform bone scans, MRIs, PET scans, X-rays, and needle or surgical biopsies. Laboratory testing of tissue samples from tumors can reveal the type and stage of bone cancer that an individual has, according to Mayo Clinic.