July is Sarcoma Awareness Month

July is Sarcoma Awareness Month

Sarcomas can fly under the radar, but understanding sarcoma can help individuals and their families cope with a diagnosis more effectively.

Sarcoma is often considered a "forgotten cancer" because it is not widely known or spoken about. Sarcoma is an uncommon group of cancers which arise in the bones, and connective tissue such as fat and muscle. In most cases, it’s not clear what causes sarcoma. Family history and exposure to chemicals or radiation may increase risk. Throughout July, individuals can spread information about sarcoma to help get it the attention — and research for a cure — that is deserving to those facing a sarcoma diagnosis.

A Brief Glimpse at Sarcoma

Far too many individuals are familiar with cancer. According to the World Health Organization, cancer is responsible for roughly one in six deaths across the globe, making it the second leading cause of death worldwide.

Certain cancers claim more lives each year than others, but all types of cancer, including sarcoma, are potentially deadly. Sarcomas can fly under the radar, but understanding sarcoma can help individuals and their families cope with a diagnosis more effectively.

What is Sarcoma?

The Sarcoma Foundation of America defines sarcomas as cancers of the bone and connective tissue. There are many different subtypes of sarcomas because they can arise from various tissue structures, including nerves, muscles, joints, bone, fat, and blood vessels.

Where are Sarcomas located?

Sarcomas are most often found in the limbs, where the majority of the body's connective tissue is found. In addition, the SFA notes that sarcomas are commonly hidden deep in the body, and because of that, many sarcomas are not curable by the time of diagnosis.

Do Sarcomas produce symptoms?

The SFA warns that sarcomas may not produce any symptoms during their early stages. Bumps and lumps should not be ignored, even though they are not necessarily indicative of sarcoma. Any time people find bumps or lumps they should discuss them with their physicians immediately.

As tumors grow, sarcomas may cause certain symptoms, including: 

  • Intermittent pain in the affected area that may be worse at night
  • Swelling, which may start weeks after the pain
  • A limp (if sarcoma is affecting a leg)

Can Sarcomas be treated?

The SFA notes that treatments for sarcoma, such as surgery or surgery accompanied by chemotherapy and/or radiation, are sometimes effective. However, such treatments are only effective about 50 percent of the time, a fact the SFA notes only highlights the extraordinary need for new sarcoma therapies.

What is the prevalence of Sarcomas?

Sarcomas are rare in adults, accounting for just 1 percent of all adult cancers. However, sarcomas account for roughly 20 percent of all childhood cancers.

Although the topic of cancer is seldom one people want to bring up, awareness efforts can help shed light on common and rare forms of the disease, pave the way for research and intervention, and galvanize support efforts in communities. Understanding sarcoma may compel people to bring any potential symptoms to the attention of their physicians while the cancer can still be effectively treated. More information about sarcoma is available at www.curesarcoma.org


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