July is Sarcoma Awareness Month

July is Sarcoma Awareness Month
Cancer by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

Sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that develops in connective tissue and accounts for about 1% of adult cases of cancer and 15% of childhood cancers. Depending upon where they develop, sarcomas are categorized as either soft tissue sarcoma (STS) or bone sarcoma (osteosarcoma) and there are several sub-types of each. STSs can originate almost anywhere in the body - in fat, muscles, tendons, joints, blood vessels, nerves and organs and are usually named according to the type of normal tissue that they most closely resemble. Sarcomas found in organs also have specific names and characteristics. Osteosarcoma is the most common type of primary bone cancer, most often occurring in the bones near the knee or shoulder, and is more commonly diagnosed in children.

Early signs of sarcoma may be a painless lump or swelling and most often found in the arms, legs, chest or abdomen. Depending on the location, there may be no symptoms until the tumor has grown large enough to press against nerves, muscles or organs, and causes pain or a disruption in the body’s normal functions.

What causes sarcoma is not certain, but factors that may increase one’s risk of developing sarcoma include previous radiation therapy, certain genetic disorders, exposure to certain chemicals and long-term lymphedema (swelling).

Because there are so many types of sarcomas, diagnosis can be difficult but is usually through history, physical exam and imaging tests, then confirmed by a biopsy of the tumor. Treatment is dependent upon a variety of factors and usually is a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

For a PCHC Cardiac Sarcoma Health Promotion Activity Plan click here: