Research continues every day to find the link to other hereditary cancers that are considered rare.

Sarcoma: Cancerous (malignant) tumors of the connective tissues 

What is a sarcoma?

Sarcoma is a cancerous tumor of connective tissue derived  of the body. Normal connective tissue include fat, blood vessels, nerves, bones, muscles, deep skin tissues, and cartilage.

Sarcomas are divided into two main groups, bone sarcomas and soft tissue sarcomas. They are further sub-classified based on the type of presumed cell of origin found in the tumor. They all share certain microscopic characteristics and have similar symptoms.

How often do sarcomas occur?

Sarcomas are considered to be rare with about 14,000 new cases diagnosed each year.

Do sarcomas occur in adults or children?

Sarcomas are less common in adults. About 15% of all cancers diagnosed in children under the age of 20 are sarcomas.

What is a soft tissue sarcoma?

Soft tissue sarcomas are found in muscles, fat, tendons, blood vessels, synovial and fibrous tissues. There are more than 50 types of soft tissue sarcomas. The initial symptom may be a lump followed by pain; however, often times there are no symptoms.

What is a bone sarcoma?

Bone sarcomas are very rare and more likely to be found in children. Bone sarcomas come in three varieties. The first type is osteosarcoma. This is the most common type. It occurs in growing bones, thus most often identified in children.

Chondrosarcoma occurs in the cartilage and is most often found in adults.

Ewing’s sarcoma is the third type and can occur in the soft tissue or bone. Symptoms depend on where the location of the tumor is, but can include: pain, joint swelling and tenderness, fractures, anemia, fatigue, or weight loss.

What causes sarcomas?

Although it remains uncertain why individuals develop sarcomas, certain causes have been identified such as, specific components of herbicides and wood preservatives, high doses of radiation exposure, chemotherapy treatment for other conditions, Paget’s disease, chromosomal abnormalities, and certain genetic conditions.

Some genetic conditions include: NF1, Gardner syndrome, Werner syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, Gorlin syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, and retinoblastoma.

What should I do if I think I may have a sarcoma?

Bring any suspicious concerns to the attention of a physician. A physician may order a biopsy or other diagnostic testing and/or imaging to make a diagnosis.

How are sarcomas treated?

Treatment depends on the size, location, and grade of the tumor but may include one or more of the following: surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and immune system targeted therapy.

Additional information can be found at:

http://www.sarcomaalliance.org

http://www.cancer.net

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