Sarcoma is not a well-known cancer. Unlike breast or prostate cancer, many people have never heard of this cancer until they or someone they know is diagnosed. July is Sarcoma Awareness Month, and the following are some facts about this disease.
- Sarcoma is rare – it accounts for only 1% of all cancers diagnosed in adults.
- Sarcoma is more common in children and young adults, accounting for approximately 15% of cancers seen in children.
- Sarcoma commonly occurs in the extremities like the legs and arms, but can also arise in the abdomen and hips.
- There are two main types of sarcoma: Bone and soft tissue. Soft tissue is the more common, and it can arise in the muscle, cartilage, fat, tendons and nerves.
- Soft tissue sarcomas are named according to the tissue from which they arise. There are approximately 50 sub-types of sarcoma.
- Most people that develop sarcoma don’t have a known risk factor, but risk factors include previous radiation therapy, certain genetic syndromes and exposure to dioxins that are used in herbicides and insecticides.
- Signs and symptoms include a lump on the body that is usually painless, or abdominal pain that doesn’t go away.
- There is no regular screening that is done for sarcoma like there is for breast, prostate or colon cancer.
Patients with a diagnosis of sarcoma are encouraged to seek care at a center that provides multidisciplinary care. Research indicates that patients have better outcomes when they are treated at a center specializing in sarcoma.
Because sarcoma can occur anywhere in the body, including the bone, it can be treated with different therapies, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, targeted therapy, clinical studies or a combination of these.
The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center has a dedicated Sarcoma Program for the treatment of all types of sarcoma, and a Sarcoma Survivorship Program that deals with the long-term health needs of this population. Although a rare disease, U-M treats approximately 250 cases a year, and has an active clinical trials program dedicated to discovering new treatments.
Take the next step:
- Learn about the resources available to sarcoma patients and their families.
- View this guide (pdf) of information resources developed by the Patient Education Resources center for the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.
- Still have questions? Call the nurses at the University of Michigan Cancer AnswerLine™. They can help patients or their loved ones find a clinical trial or provide insights into the newest and latest cancer treatments. Feel free to call at 1-800-865-1125 or send an e-mail.
The Cancer AnswerLine™ nurses are experienced in oncology care, including helping patients and their families who have questions about cancer. These registered oncology nurses are available by calling 800-865-1125 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Your call is always free and confidential.
The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 1,000 doctors, nurses, care givers and researchers are united by one thought: to deliver the highest quality, compassionate care while working to conquer cancer through innovation and collaboration. The center is among the top-ranked national cancer programs, and #1 in Michigan according to U.S. News & World Report. Our multidisciplinary clinics offer one-stop access to teams of specialists for personalized treatment plans, part of the ideal patient care experience. Patients also benefit through access to promising new cancer therapies.