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Is bone cancer hereditary?

With any query about bone cancer, it is important to make sure that we're talking about the same thing. Primary bone cancer is cancer that started in the bone, and developed from bone cells that have become cancerous. Secondary bone cancer is cancer that has spread to the bone from a cancer that started elsewhere in the body. For example, breast cancer, prostate cancer, bowel cancer and lung cancer can all spread to the bones. So the cancer cells in the bones are not cancerous bone cells, but breast cancer or prostate cancer cells, for example. There is more about this in our page on how a cancer spreads.

As far as we know, primary bone cancer is not caused by a faulty gene that can be passed down through families. But people who have particular genetic syndromes have a higher risk of some types of bone cancer than other people. These genetic syndromes are discussed in our section about the risks and causes of bone cancer.

Secondary bone cancer is caused by the spread of another cancer.  So this is not directly caused by a faulty gene.

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Updated: 1 May 2013