Malignant (cancerous) tumors of the connective tissues are called "sarcomas," a term derived from a Greek work, meaning fleshy growth. As cancers of the connective tissue, sarcomas develop fat, blood vessels, nerves, bones, muscles, deep skin tissue, tendons and cartilage. Sarcomas are divided into two main groups - bone tumors and soft tissue tumors. They are further classified based on the type of cell found in the tumor, although all sarcomas share certain microscopic characteristics and have similar symptoms.
Approximately 15,000 new cases of sarcoma are diagnosed in the United States every year. While sarcomas account for fewer than 2% of all adult cancers, they are one of the top five most commonly diagnosed cancers afflicting children. Sarcomas do not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status.
Common Cases of Sarcoma Cancer
© Burningham et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2012
Used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org)
Burningham, Zachary, Mia Hashibe, Logan Spector, and Joshua D. Schiffman. "The Epidemiology of Sarcoma." Clinical Sarcoma Research (2012). BioMed Central Ltd. Web. 10 Feb. 2016.
A sarcoma diagnosis can be difficult because a sarcoma can originate virtually any place in the body and there is no standard set of presenting symptoms in patients. Sarcoma type, staging, metastasis (i.e., whether it has spread beyond its primary or initial site) and treatment all play a role in determining the ultimate outcome to the patient. Because sarcomas are rare and there are so many different forms of the disease, there is often insufficient data (or numbers of cases) to provide an accurate estimate of a patient's prognosis or chance of survival. For this reason, a review of the statistics that can be found online or in medical journals may be disheartening. If you chose to review these statistics, you should do so cautiously. Each patient may react to the disease or its treatment differently, so no journal or statistic can predict a patient's chance of survival. In fact, many sarcoma survivors have defied all odds, overcoming what at one point in time seemed to be an impossible challenge. If you or a loved-one has been diagnosed with sarcoma, please seek a specialist who sees a large number of sarcoma patients each month. Consider visiting a National Cancer Institute Cancer Center or a surgeon from the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society.
This website provides a great many resources for additional sarcoma research as well as RSS feeds for the very latest in sarcoma studies, research and information. Additional sarcoma information can also be found at the University of Minnesota Musculoskeletal Bone and Soft Tissue Center.
We hope that the information contained in this website will be helpful to you in better understanding your (or your loved one's) sarcoma and in discussing it with members of your support group. You can also order a printed version of the RIS Sarcoma Patient Starter Notebook which contains much of the same information, in a notebook form, that you will find on this website.