Cancer answers: What is sarcoma?

Written by Community Health Network on 7/1/2014 6:00:00 AM

Sarcoma is the general term for a broad group of cancers that includes tumors that form in the bones and in the soft tissues in the body.

There are two main types of sarcoma: bone sarcomas and soft tissue sarcomas. Sarcomas can develop in children and adults. For children under age 20, approximately 15 percent of cancer diagnoses are sarcomas. Although rare, there are approximately 14,000 new cases of sarcoma diagnosed each year in the United States.

Soft tissue sarcoma
Soft tissues connect, support and surround other body structures. Soft tissues include muscle, fat, blood vessels, nerves, tendons and the lining of your joints. A large variety of soft tissue sarcomas can occur in these areas.  

Types of soft tissue sarcoma include leiomyosarcoma, liposarcoma, gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) and others. Soft tissue sarcoma is a rare form of cancer, but serious. About one percent of all cancers diagnosed are soft tissue cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, About 12,020 new soft tissue sarcomas will be diagnosed in 2014, and 4,740 Americans are expected to die of soft tissue sarcomas.

Bone cancer
There are three types of bone sarcoma: osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma. Bone sarcomas are very rare with approximately 2,890 new cases diagnosed in the United States each year, and approximately 1,410 deaths. Bone cancer most commonly affects the long bones of the arms and legs.

The most common type of primary bone cancer is osteosarcoma. Because it occurs in growing bones, it is most often found in children.

Another type of primary bone cancer is chondrosarcoma, which is commonly found in the cartilage on the ends of bones. This cancer occurs more often in older adults. Ewing’s sarcoma can occur as either a bone sarcoma or a soft tissue sarcoma depending upon the original location in the tumor. It occurs most often in children and young adults.

Bone tumors can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Benign bone tumors are rarely life threatening and do not spread within the body; however, they can grow and compress healthy bone tissue.

Signs and symptoms
To learn more about the signs of sarcoma visit

Tags: art therapy , benign , malignant | Posted in: Bone , Sarcoma , Soft Tissue

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