Sarcoma is a Dangerous Cancer
Sarcoma is a cancer of the connective tissues, such as nerves, muscles, joints, bone, or blood vessels. It can arise anywhere in the body and is frequently hidden deep in the limbs. Between 15-20% of all children’s cancers are sarcomas. However, it is more rare in adults and only 1% of adult cancers are sarcomas. There are two basic categories of sarcoma, soft tissue sarcoma and non-soft tissue sarcoma. Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer and chondrosarcoma, another form of bone cancer, develops in cartilage. Both of them are non-soft tissue sarcomas. Some sarcomas, such as Ewing’s sarcoma, have both a soft tissue and non-soft tissue form.
There are over 50 subtypes of sarcoma. The American Cancer Society’s Key Statistics About Sarcoma states that the most common types of soft tissue sarcoma are: MFH or Malignant Fibrous Histiocytoma (28%), liposarcoma (15%), LMS or leiomyosarcoma (12%), synovial sarcoma (10%), malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (6%), and rhabdomyosarcoma (5%). All of the other types of soft tissue sarcoma occur at percentages of 3% or less.The ACS’ Key Statistics for Bone Cancer states that the most common types of bone cancer are osteosarcoma (35%), chondrosarcoma (26%), Ewing’s bone sarcoma (16%), chordoma (8%), and malignant fibrous histiocytoma/fibrosarcoma (6%). Other rare bone cancers account for the remaining 9%.
According to the ACS’ Key Statistics About Sarcoma, approximately 9,420 new cases of soft-tissue sarcoma will be diagnosed in the United States in 2005. The ACS goes on to state, “Of these, 4,530 cases will be diagnosed in males, and 3,890 cases will be diagnosed in females. During 2005, 3,490 Americans (1,910 males and 1,580 females) are expected to die of soft tissue sarcomas. These statistics include both adults and children”. With respect to non-soft tissue sarcomas, the ACS states, “In 2005, about 2,570 new cases of cancer of the bones and joints will be diagnosed, and about 1,200 deaths from these cancers are expected.” They go on to say, “There are approximately 900 new cases of osteosarcoma diagnosed in the United States each year. About 400 of these cases occur in children and adolescents younger than 20 years old. Osteosarcoma is about 50% more common in males than in females. Most osteosarcomas occur between the ages of 10 and 30. Teenagers are the most commonly affected age group, but it can occur at any age. About 10% of all osteosarcomas develop in people over the age of 60.” Based on the ACS percentages, there will be approximately 670 new cases of chondrosarcoma and 410 new cases of Ewing’s bone sarcoma. According to the ACS’ Key Statistics About Osteosarcoma, “The five-year survival rates for osteosarcoma have significantly improved over the last few years and are now around 65% to 70% for children. Although adults haven’t been as well studied, doctors feel they will do as well if they can take the same type of treatments as children do.” Given these figures for soft tissue and non-soft tissue sarcomas, we must work aggressively to find a cure for both.
The Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative publishes articles and links to articles and websites related to a number of the subtypes of sarcoma. We currently have detailed material on each of the sarcomas listed on the buttons on the left under the word “Sarcomas”. Each month we add additional information and subtypes to our website.
The Basic Question
Because so few people are aware of sarcoma, many of them will ask you, “What is sarcoma?” Some simple “Sarcoma Facts” are listed below. We have used them in numerous conversations with people to help address that question.
What is sarcoma?
It is a cancer of the connective tissues, such as nerves, muscles, cartilage, joints, bone, or blood vessels.
It can arise anywhere in the body, frequently hidden deep in the limbs.
How prevalent are sarcomas?
About 1% of all adult cancers are sarcomas.
Between 15-20% of all children’s cancers are sarcomas.
There are hundreds of thousands of patients and their families struggling with sarcoma world wide
How are sarcomas treated?
When possible, sarcoma patients have surgery to remove the cancer.
Surgery is often combined with chemotherapy and/or radiation.
Why are sarcomas dangerous?
They are often misdiagnosed. Sometimes they are thought to be sports injuries.
When they are diagnosed, they may be large and difficult to remove surgically and they may have metastasized.
Many sarcomas resist current treatments.