What is Sarcoma?
As part of our effort to raise awareness of Sarcoma, we have found a great overview on Sarcoma, provided by SarcomaAlliance.org.
Cancerous (malignant) tumors of the connective tissues are called “sarcomas”. The term sarcoma comes from a Greek word meaning fleshy growth. Sarcoma arises in the connective tissue of the body. Normal connective tissue include, fat, blood vessels, nerves, bones, muscles, deep skin tissues, and cartilage. Sarcomas are divided into two main groups, bone sarcomas and soft tissue sarcomas. They are further sub-classified based on the type of presumed cell of origin found in the tumor.
They all share certain microscopic characteristics and have similar symptoms. Sarcomas can develop in children and adults. For children under 20 approximately 15 percent of cancer diagnosis are sarcomas. Although rare, there are approximately 14,000 new cases of sarcoma diagnosed each year in the United States. In general sarcomas are divided into the large groups of soft tissue sarcoma and bone sarcomas.
Soft tissue sarcoma can occur in the muscles, fat, blood vessels, tendons, fibrous tissues and synovial tissues (tissues around joints). About 40 percent occur in the legs usually at or above the knee. Fifteen percent develop in the hands and arms, another 15 percent in the head and neck and 30 percent in the shoulders, chest, abdomen, or hips.
Soft tissue sarcomas can invade surrounding tissue and can metastasize (spread) to other organs of the body. forming a secondary tumor. Secondary tumors are referred to as metastatic soft tissue sarcoma because they are part of the original cancer and are not a new disease. Some tumors of the soft tissue are benign (non-cancerous) and are rarely life threatening.