The Forgotten Cancer: Sarcoma

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Provided by Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Flint


JULY IS SARCOMA AWARENESS MONTH

What is Sarcoma?

Sarcomas are rare tumors that develop in tissue, like bone or muscle. Soft tissue sarcomas develop in soft tissues like fat, muscle, nerves, fibrous tissues, blood vessels or deep skin tissues. There are more than 70 subtypes of sarcoma cancers.

Risk Factors

Radiation exposure accounts for less than five percent of sarcomas. However, patients can develop sarcomas from receiving radiation to treat other cancers, such as breast cancer or lymphoma. In addition, some family cancer syndromes increase a person’s risk of developing soft tissue sarcomas. If you were treated for cancer at a younger age or have a family history of soft tissue sarcomas, Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Flint offers genetic testing.

Injury and lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet and exercise are not linked to the risk for soft tissue sarcoma.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there are around 13,000 new cases of sarcoma cancer diagnosed in the United States each year. The chances of developing sarcoma is one in 250. Sarcomas make up one percent of all cancers, but they make up about 20% of childhood cancers, according to the Sarcoma Foundation of America. About 5,000 people will die of this disease each year.

Sarcomas are more commonly discovered in children and adolescents, as well as adults under the age of 30. Soft tissue sarcomas usually occur in younger people in their 20s and 30s, while bone sarcomas often occur in children when they are going through growth spurts.

Symptoms

According to the ACS, about 50% of soft-tissue sarcomas begin in an arm or leg, and around four in ten cases start in the abdomen, or belly. Sarcomas can also develop in the chest or neck area, but this is rare.

If you have any of the following symptoms, make sure to see your primary care physician:

  • Swelling – A lump felt through the skin, anywhere on your body, especially if you notice that is growing
  • Fatigue
  • Bone pain or breaks
  • Persistent pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Blood in vomit or stool (even stools appearing black and sticky)

Can sarcomas be prevented?

The ACS states that there are no known ways to prevent sarcomas. Most cases appear in people who do not have known causes of the disease, such as family cancer syndromes or exposure to radiation from previous cancer treatment. The only way an individual can lower their risk of developing a sarcoma is to avoid the risk factors explained above.  You can find more information about sarcomas by visiting karmanos.org/sarcomas.

Treatment

Treating sarcoma may include a team of oncology specialists, which is provided at Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Flint. Tolutope Oyasiji, MD, MRCSI, MHSA, FACS specializes in soft tissue malignancies, such as sarcomas and melanomas. Dr. Oyasiji sees patients from Genesee and Lapeer counties and works closely with each patient’s team of physicians to provide comprehensive cancer care.

Karmanos physicians are available to answer any questions you may have about symptoms and can offer
a second opinion. Call 810.342.4848 to speak with our oncology nurse navigator or visit karmanos.org/flintcancer.

 

 

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