July is Sarcoma Awareness Month. Sarcoma is a general term for a broad group of cancers that begin in the bones and soft tissue. There are more than 70 types of sarcoma cancers. Treatment options depend on the type, location, and a few other factors. We’re going to talk about the symptoms of sarcoma, causes, and risk factors.
Symptoms of Sarcoma
There are various potential symptoms of sarcoma. Some symptoms include
- Bone pain
- A lump that can be felt through the skin. It may or may not be painful
- A broken bone that can happen unexpectedly. This can be due to a minor injury and even no injury at all
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
Causes of Sarcoma
It’s not clear what causes sarcoma in particular. In general, cancer is caused by a mutation that happens in the DNA within the cells. These mutations can tell cells to grow and divide uncontrollably and to continue living as opposed to normal cells that will die. This accumulation of cells can lead to a tumor. It’s important to note that these cells can also break away and spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
There are certain risk factors that can increase an individual’s chance of having sarcoma. Here are a few risk factors you should be aware of.
There are certain inherited syndromes that can increase a person’s risk for sarcoma. For instance, individuals who have inherited familial retinoblastoma or neurofibromatosis type 1 are more at risk.
Chronic swelling, also known as lymphedema, is swelling caused by a backup of lymph fluid due to a blockage or damage in the lymphatic system. This can increase individuals’ risk of a specific type of sarcoma called angiosarcoma.
If you’ve been treated for previous cancer through radiation treatment, this can increase your chance of developing sarcoma later.
Exposure to Chemicals
Chemicals like industrial chemicals and herbicides are linked to an increased risk of sarcoma that affects the liver. Proper education is the gateway to a healthier life. Sarcoma makes up about 1 percent of all new cancer cases. As such, many people aren’t aware of what sarcoma is. If you or someone you know has a type of sarcoma, it’s important to understand that there are options. With the right medical team and treatment plan, managing and treating sarcoma is possible. Feel free to reach out to us at WFMC Health to set up an in-person or telehealth appointment.