What is Sarcoma?
July is Sarcoma Awareness Month, so we wanted to delve a little deeper into what sarcoma is, how it can be detected and prevented and treatment options.
What is Sarcoma?
Sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that grows in connective tissues in the body. There are many types of sarcoma, but WebMD outlines the two main types, which are Osteosarcoma, a type found in the bone, and soft tissue sarcoma. According to the American Cancer Society, roughly 800 to 900 new cases of osteosarcoma are diagnosed each year, with at least half of those cases in children and teenagers. Approximately 50% of soft tissue sarcomas originate in a person’s arm or leg. Symptoms of sarcoma vary person to person, but some include:
- A new lump on the body
- Blood in stool, or black stool
- Blood in vomit
- Worsening abdominal pain
- Weight loss
Detection and Prevention
Typically, lifestyle choices can impact cancer risk and prevention, but in the case of osteosarcoma specifically, children and teens have not had enough time to develop any lifestyle risks. There are still some ways to detect osteosarcoma early. Ages 10 to 30 are the primary population who are at the highest risk to develop sarcoma. This is likely linked to rapid bone growth, which has been found to have potential links to cancer. Similarly, children who are tall for their age may be at risk for osteosarcoma because of rapid bone growth.
In children and teens, osteosarcoma is not often preventable. Sarcoma in adults can be prevented through standard cancer prevention practices, such as eating a healthy diet, being consistently active, not smoking and keeping alcohol consumption to a minimum.
The main treatment options for Osteosarcoma are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment. The type(s) of treatment depend on the stage of the cancer and progression. Chemotherapy is often used prior to surgery, as well as after. Radiation is used less frequently, but is still a viable option for sarcoma treatment, depending on the case.
Southeast Radiation Oncology Group