July is Sarcoma and Bone Cancer Awareness Month. Sarcomas are a rare group of cancers in which malignant cells form in the bones or soft tissues of the body.

“Sarcomas refer to a broad group of cancers that are relatively uncommon and make up less than 1% of adult cancers,” explains Dr. Brian Lingerfelt, MD. There are two main types of sarcoma. The first is soft tissue sarcoma, a cancer of tissue such as muscle and fat form in cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, tendons, nerves, and around joints. The other type of sarcoma originates in the bone. It is referred to as Osteosarcoma.

Bone and joint cancer is most frequently diagnosed among teenagers, while soft tissue cancers typically affect those 55 years or older.

Having certain inherited disorders can increase the risk for soft tissue sarcomas, including retinoblastoma, tuberous sclerosis, Werner syndrome, and nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome. “In most cases it is not known what causes sarcoma. Family history and environmental exposure such as radiation may play a role. Treatment for sarcomainvolves a multidisciplinary approach and can include radiation, surgery or chemotherapy depending upon the type, stage and location of the Sarcoma,” says Dr. Lingerfelt.

Charleston Oncology participates in over 25 clinical research studies inclusive of sarcomas and many different types of cancer. “Having an active research department enables us to learn more about cancers and find more effective treatments and potential cures,” says Dr. Lingerfelt.

In 2021, more than 13,000 cases of soft tissue sarcoma and approximately 3,600 cases of bone sarcoma are expected to be diagnosed in the United States, according to data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER). According to the National Cancer Institute, sarcoma incidence is likely underreported as sarcoma is difficult to distinguish from other cancers when they are found within organs.

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