Epidemiology of osteosarcoma and Ewing's sarcoma in childhood: a study of 305 cases by the Children's Cancer Group

Cancer. 1998 Oct 1;83(7):1440-8. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0142(19981001)83:7<1440::aid-cncr23>3.0.co;2-3.


Background: The Children's Cancer Group conducted a case-control study to determine the role of a broad range of environmental and familial factors in the etiology of Ewing's sarcoma and osteosarcoma in children. These factors included radiation exposure and, for children with osteosarcoma, parental exposure to beryllium.

Methods: The parents of 152 children with osteosarcoma and 153 children with Ewing's sarcoma were interviewed by telephone. Controls were obtained by random digit dialing and were matched to cases by age and race.

Results: Female osteosarcoma patients had earlier onset of breast development (age 11.4 vs. 11.8 years, P=0.03) and menarche (age 12.1 vs. 12.5 years, P=0.002) but no significant differences in growth, whereas male osteosarcoma patients were similar in age at the onset of secondary sexual characteristics but reported significantly less weight gain during their growth spurt (6.6 vs. 11.7 kg, P=0.003). For children with Ewing's sarcoma, the growth spurt began earlier (age 12.1 vs. 12.7 years, P=0.12) and resulted in less weight and height gain (5.2 vs. 9.7 kg, P=0.002, and 10.2 vs. 12.7 cm, P=0.02, respectively) for males, but no differences were observed among females. For factors not related to growth and development (including a wide range of occupational, medical, and household exposures), there was little evidence of an etiologic role with respect to either tumor type.

Conclusions: Differences between cases and controls with respect to growth and development showed no consistent pattern. This study did not identify any important risk factors for either type of childhood bone tumor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bone Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Bone Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Growth
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Menarche
  • Osteosarcoma / epidemiology*
  • Osteosarcoma / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sarcoma, Ewing / epidemiology*
  • Sarcoma, Ewing / physiopathology
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Telephone
  • United States / epidemiology