Sarcoma Risk Factors, Signs, and Symptoms
July 21, 2021
Author: Jasmine Brown
What is Sarcoma?
Sarcomas are rare tumors that develop in tissue, such as bone or muscle. There are more than 70 subtypes of sarcoma cancers. Soft tissue sarcomas develop in soft tissues such as fat, muscle, nerves, connective tissue, blood vessels, or deep skin tissues.
Risk Factors for Sarcoma
Radiation exposure accounts for less than five percent of sarcomas. However, patients can develop sarcomas from radiation given to treat other cancers, such as breast cancer or lymphoma. In addition, some family cancer syndromes increase a person’s risk of developing soft tissue sarcomas. If you have been treated for cancer at a younger age, or have a family history of soft tissue sarcomas, McLaren Flint’s Karmanos Cancer Institute offers genetic testing.
Injury and lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet, and exercise are not linked to the risk of soft tissue sarcoma.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), approximately 13,000 new cases of sarcoma cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year. The chance of developing sarcoma is 1 in 250. Sarcomas make up one percent of all cancers, but according to the Sarcoma Foundation of America, they make up about 20% of childhood cancers. About 5,000 people die from this disease every year.
Sarcomas are more often detected in children and adolescents, as well as in adults under 30 years of age. Soft tissue sarcomas usually occur in younger people between the ages of 20 and 30, while bone sarcomas often occur in children when they are going through a growth spurt.
According to the ACS, about 50% of soft tissue sarcomas start in an arm or leg, and about 4 out of 10 cases start in the abdomen or abdomen. Sarcomas can also develop in the chest or neck, but this is rare.
If you have any of the following symptoms, see your doctor:
Swelling A lump that is felt through the skin anywhere on your body, especially if you notice it growing Tiredness Bone pain or fractures Persistent pain Abdominal pain Weight loss Blood in vomit or stool (even stool that appears black and sticky)
Can sarcomas be prevented?
The ACS states that there are no known ways to prevent sarcomas. Most cases of sarcoma cancer occur in people who have no known causes of the disease, such as familial cancer syndromes or radiation exposure due to previous cancer treatment. The only way a person can lower their risk of developing a sarcoma is by avoiding the risk factors outlined above.
You can find more information about sarcomas at karmanos.org/sarcomas.
Treating sarcoma may involve a team of oncology specialists, who are delivered to the Karmanos Cancer Institute in McLaren Flint. Tolutope Oyasiji, MD, MRCSI, MHSA, FACS specializes in soft tissue malignancies such as sarcomas and melanomas. dr. Oyasiji sees patients from Genesee and Lapeer counties and works closely with each patient’s team of physicians to provide comprehensive cancer care.
Karmanos doctors are available to answer any of your questions about symptoms and can give you a second opinion. Call (810) 342-4848 to speak with our oncology nurse navigator today or visit karmanos.org/flintcancer.