Cancer begins when healthy cells change and grow out of control, forming a mass called a tumor. A tumor can be cancerous or benign. A cancerous tumor is malignant, meaning it can grow and spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor means the tumor can grow and invade nearby structures but will not spread.
Sarcomas are cancers that develop from bones or soft tissues, such as fat, muscles, nerves, and more. Because bone and soft tissues can be found nearly everywhere in the body, a sarcoma can start in any part of the body.
- 60% begin in an arm or leg
- 30% start in the torso or abdomen
- 10% occur in the head or neck
Both children and adults can develop a sarcoma. It is rare, accounting for about 1% of all adult cancers. However, sarcomas represent about 15% of all childhood cancers.
Sarcomas are divided into two main groups: bone sarcomas and soft tissue sarcomas. They are further sub-classified based on the type of presumed cell of origin found in the tumor. They all share certain microscopic characteristics and have similar symptoms.
Although rare, there are approximately 17,000 new cases of sarcoma diagnosed each year in the United States. Because sarcomas are rare, it is important to find physicians who have expertise with sarcomas.