July is Sarcoma Awarenss Month
02 Jul 2018 by Ted Escobedo
What is Sarcoma?
Cancer starts when cells start to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer and can spread to other areas. There are many types of soft tissue tumors, and not all of them are cancerous. Many benign tumors are found in soft tissues. The word benign means they're not cancer. These tumors can't spread to other parts of the body. Some soft tissue tumors behave in ways between a cancer and a non-cancer. These are called intermediate soft tissue tumors.
When the word sarcoma is part of the name of a disease, it means the tumor is malignant (cancer). A sarcoma is a type of cancer that starts in tissues like bone or muscle. Bone and soft tissue sarcomas are the main types of sarcoma. Soft tissue sarcomas can develop in soft tissues like fat, muscle, nerves, fibrous tissues, blood vessels, or deep skin tissues. They can be found in any part of the body. Most of them start in the arms or legs. They can also be found in the trunk, head and neck area, internal organs, and the area in back of the abdominal (belly) cavity (known as the retroperitoneum). Sarcomas are not common tumors.
Scientists have found a few risk factors that make a person more likely to develop soft tissue sarcomas:
Radiation given to treat other cancers
Radiation exposure accounts for less than 5% of sarcomas. But patients might develop sarcomas from radiation given to treat other cancers, like breast cancer or Lymphoma . The sarcoma often starts in the part of the body that was treated with radiation. The average time between the radiation treatments and the diagnosis of a sarcoma is about 10 years.
Radiation therapy techniques have improved steadily over several decades. Treatments now target cancers more precisely, and more is known about selecting radiation doses. These advances are expected to reduce the number of cancers caused by radiation therapy. But because these cancers take so long to develop, the results of these changes may not be seen for a long time. Still, radiation therapy is used only when its benefits (improved survival rate and relief of symptoms) outweigh its risks.
Family cancer syndromes
Family cancer syndromes are disorders caused by gene defects (mutations) that people are born with (often inherited from a parent) that are linked to a high risk of getting certain cancers. Some family cancer syndromes increase a person's risk of developing soft tissue sarcomas.