While there are many different kinds of this cancer, together all pediatric sarcomas account for less than 15 percent of childhood cancers.
Children’s sarcoma is less studied than adults and it is important to find the best treatment in a comfortable setting for age-specific needs. Most children and teens with cancer are treated at large pediatric cancer centers. Pediatric cancer treatment is usually offered to children from birth to age 18 or 19, although some groups extend pediatric treatment to age 21.
These cancer centers offer clinical trials run by the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), which is supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
The Children’s Oncology Group website offers a section called “For Patients and Families.”
There, you can access Find A COG Center where you can search for a center near you. Along with this directory, there’s medical information for patients, parents, family, and friends about childhood cancers; survivor guidelines for a variety of health risks; and a COG Family Handbook that you can download for free.
There are several types of pediatric sarcomas.
They are called pediatric sarcomas because of their greater prevalence among children compared to adults.
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a type of sarcoma made up of cells that normally develop into skeletal (voluntary) muscles. These are muscles that we control to move parts of our body. We might think of our skeletal muscles as being mainly in our arms and legs, but RMS can start nearly anywhere in the body, even in some parts of the body that don’t normally have skeletal muscle.
Cancers that start in the bones (primary bone cancers) occur most often in older children and teens, but they can develop at any age. Two main types of primary bone cancers occur in children:
Osteosarcoma is most common in teens, and usually develops in areas where the bone is growing quickly, such as near the ends of the leg or arm bones. It often causes bone pain that gets worse at night or with activity. It can also cause swelling in the area around the bone.
Ewing sarcoma is a less common type of bone cancer. It is most often found in young teens. The most common places for it to start are the pelvic (hip) bones, the chest wall (such as the ribs or shoulder blades), or in the middle of the leg bones. Symptoms can include bone pain and swelling.
Once the diagnosis of cancer is confirmed, and the type and stage of the disease has been determined, your child’s doctor will work with you, your child, and appropriate specialists to plan the best treatment. Current treatment options may include surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
Children who have soft tissue sarcomas often respond better to treatment than adults and have a better prognosis. This might be because of differences in the cancers themselves, as well as because children often get more intense treatments. Also, children usually don’t have many of the other health problems that adults with cancer might have, which can often get worse with treatment.