JULY IS SARCOMA AND BONE CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
Sarcoma and Bone Cancer Awareness month calls upon us to raise awareness, improve cancer detection, and support those affected by sarcomas.
Sarcomas are rare cancers originating in connective tissues. We’ve compiled some basic information to help others better understand and navigate these rare cancers.
In 2023, approximately 13,400 cases of soft tissue sarcoma and approximately 3,970 cases of bone and joint cancer are expected to be diagnosed in the United States, according to data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER).
Sarcomas are malignant tumors that arise from transformed cells of the connective tissues of the body.
The two most common types of sarcoma:
- Soft Tissue Sarcomas form in cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, tendons, nerves, and around joints.
- Osteosarcomas develop in bone;
Other types of sarcoma include:
- Liposarcomas form in fat;
- Rhabdomyosarcomas form in muscle;
- Ewing sarcomas form in bone and soft tissue
Sarcomas are most often found in the arms and legs, where the majority of connective tissues are located, but they can occur virtually anywhere. Signs include noticeable lumps, swelling, persistent pain, restricted movement, fatigue, weight loss, fever, or a bone that breaks for seemingly no reason.
Although many of the lumps and bumps we get are benign, people should have them looked at by a doctor at an early stage in case it is sarcoma. Tests for sarcoma typically include an ultrasound scan and a surgical biopsy to determine whether a tumor is benign or malignant.
When it comes to sarcoma, amputation used to be the standard surgical response. However, with advances in treatment and care, and with better early detection, more treatments are available.
Tailored treatment plans may include a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and/or targeted therapies. Proton radiation therapy or CyberKnife technologies may also be used to more precisely avoid radiation of surrounding healthy tissues and organs. New research is also exploring targeted therapy drugs and immunotherapy to harness the body’s immune system in the fight.
Some additional resources to learn more about sarcomas and help to raise awareness of this rare and often “forgotten cancer.”