July is Sarcoma Awareness Month

If you’ve had cancer or have a loved one who has, you’ve likely heard of sarcoma. Sarcoma is a cancer that starts in the tissues, bones, or muscles. Sarcoma tends to affect younger people, with over 50% of those diagnosed under age 60. Sarcoma is rare, with about 16,000 new cases in the U.S. each year. Joint and bone cancer are more common in teenagers, while soft tissue cancer is more common in people ages 55 and up. Risk Factors for Developing Sarcoma Family cancer syndromes can increase the risk of soft tissue sarcomas. A damaged lymphatic system has been associated with a higher risk of sarcoma. Exposure to arsenic and vinyl chloride (used to make plastics) has also been linked to liver sarcoma. Signs of Sarcoma If you notice any of the following, see a doctor as soon as possible:

  • A new lump or growing lump - the lump may or may not hurt. About 50% of soft tissue sarcomas start in an arm or leg.

  • A lump in the belly - this may be a sign of a sarcoma that has started to grow in the back of the abdomen.

  • Worsening abdominal pain.

  • Black, tarry stools - this is a sign of bleeding in the stomach or bowels, which could be a sign of a blockage from a sarcoma.

  • Blood in vomit or stool.

Detection & Cancer Treatment for Soft Tissue Sarcoma When you see your doctor, they’ll go over your medical history and do a physical exam before doing imaging tests, to review the suspicious area and check for any spreading. They may use an x-ray, CT scan, MRI, ultrasound, or PET. If the doctor suspects that there is a sarcoma, they will remove a small piece and do a biopsy. Cancer treatment for soft tissue sarcoma can include several options, depending on the severity, and typically involves a mixture of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted drug therapy. Sarcoma is fairly rare, but staying knowledgeable is the first step to advocating for your health! We offer 45-minute consults with a doctor going over your medical records and treatments available.