July Is Sarcoma Awareness Month: What Is Sarcoma?

July Is Sarcoma Awareness Month: What Is Sarcoma?

By Admin at 12 Jul 2017, 12:43 PM


If you see yellow ribbons around your community during the month of July, they’re likely displayed in honor of Sarcoma Awareness Month. Sarcoma is a soft-tissue cancer that may occur in a variety of the body’s soft tissues, including the nerves, muscles, joints, blood vessels, fat and more. Sarcoma may also occur in the bones.

Although rare in adults, making up just 1 percent of adult cancers, sarcoma is relatively common in children, accounting for 15 percent of childhood cancer cases. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 12,310 cases of soft-tissue sarcoma diagnosed in 2016 (including in both adults and children).

Sarcoma is most often found in the arms and legs, where the majority of connective tissues are located, but it can occur virtually anywhere. Because the disease often starts deep in the body, it may not be noticeable until a large lump or bump appears — and at this point the cancer may be difficult to treat.

The Sarcoma Foundation of America (SFA) estimates that about 20 percent of sarcoma cases are curable by surgery while another 30 percent may be effectively treated with surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation. However, in about half of cases the disease is resistant to all form of treatments, highlighting an urgent need for new therapies.

The causes behind sarcoma are unknown, but there are some known risk factors. In adults, for instance, exposure to phenoxyacetic acid in herbicides or chlorophenols in wood preservatives may increase the risk. High doses of radiation are also known to cause sarcomas in some people, as are certain rare genetic alterations. The following inherited diseases are also associated with an increase sarcoma risk, according to SFA:

  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome, which is associated with alterations in the p53 gene
  • Von Recklinghausen’s disease (neurofibromatosis), which is associated with alterations in the NF1 gene


Since sarcoma is a rare cancer, many people are unfamiliar with the disease and have not been affected personally. However, many children’s lives have been altered because of this disease, and advances in early detection and treatment could help save lives. This July, take a moment to share a message via social media or speak with your friends and family about this relatively unknown condition.

A number of clinical trails are underway for people with sarcoma. If you’ve been recently diagnosed, ask your doctor if a clinical trial, which could give you access to novel treatment options, is right for you. A Gateway-funded osteosarcoma trial is currently underway at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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