What is sarcoma?
It’s a rare type of cancer recognized in July through Sarcoma Awareness Month and its yellow-colored ribbon. And, if you didn’t know anything about sarcoma, now is a good time to learn.
There’s a reason you typically don’t hear much about sarcoma. It’s a relatively rare type of cancer, causing a relatively small amount of diagnoses. That’s why it’s so important to be aware – because otherwise, you might not realize what’s going on until it’s too late.
The Mayo Clinic explains that there are two basic types of sarcoma: bone sarcoma and soft tissue sarcoma. Bone sarcoma tumors form inside bone marrow, and soft tissue sarcomas attack soft (connective) tissues.
Some of the most common bone sarcomas include osteosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma and chondrosarcoma, while common soft tissue sarcomas include leiomyosarcoma, liposarcoma, synovial sarcoma and gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST).
You can learn more about these types of sarcoma cancer at the Mayo Clinic’s website.
What are the facts and statistics on sarcoma?
Again, sarcomas are relatively rare. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that in 2014, about 12,020 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with soft tissue sarcomas, and about 4,740 of those people will die. These sarcoma statistics include adults and children.
The most common types of adult sarcoma are histiocytoma, leiomyosarcoma and liposarcoma. Leiomyosarcomas occur most frequently in the abdomen, while histiocytomas and liposarcomas usually attack the legs. Sometimes, doctors may not be able to classify the exact type of sarcoma a patient has.
What are the survival rates for sarcoma?
The ACS also provides a detailed guide on sarcoma cancer survival rates. These 5-year survival rates examine people who have been diagnosed with sarcoma 5 years ago, and measure what percentage of the patients have survived.
Survival rates for sarcoma are not exact, and they vary from patient to patient depending on individual factors, including:
- Type of sarcoma cancer.
- Type of treatment.
- Area of the tumor.
- Patient’s age.
Some types of sarcoma – for instance, those found in the legs or the arms – have a higher survival rate. Younger sarcoma patients also tend to recover more frequently.
Sarcomas are grouped by 3 stages: localized (confined to the initial site), regional (spread to nearby tissue) and distant (metastasized to other areas of the body. The survival rate depends on the stage of the tumor.
Here are the survival rates for the stages of sarcoma:
- Localized sarcoma = 83%
- Regional sarcoma = 54%
- Distant sarcoma = 16%
Also, the overall 5-year survival rate is about 50% for people with soft tissue sarcomas.
To learn more about the causes and symptoms of sarcoma, click here. For more facts and statistics about sarcoma cancer and its awareness month efforts, you can also visit the Sarcoma Alliance website.
(Image via Step Up for Sarcoma.)