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.