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About Sarcoma

Sarcomas are a very rare cancer affecting bone and soft tissue. These types of tumors arise from connective tissue — including fat, muscle, blood vessels, deep skin tissues, nerves, bone and cartilage. The type of sarcoma will be determined by the specific type of cell that makes up the cancer.

Sarcomas are usually diagnosed through a variety of tests such as: X-Rays; CT, MRI and bone scans. Often you will need a biopsy — sample of tissue removed and examined microscopically by a pathologist. There are several types of biopsy:

  • Tru-Cut biopsy - done through the use of a needle
  • Incisional or open biopsy - when surgeon cuts out a small part of the tumor to be examined by a pathologist

Depending on the type and location of the tumor, treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation. During this time you may meet different members of the sarcoma team who will be involved in your care.

Soft Tissue Sarcoma

There are more that 50 different types depending on the tissue of origin. Major types include:

  • Liposarcoma - arises from fat cells, usually located in arms, legs or body cavities;
  • Fibrosarcoma -arises from fibrous tissues found in tendons and ligaments;
  • Leiyomyosarcoma - arises from smooth muscle, usually found in the uterus or digestive tract;
  • Neurofibrosarcoma - arises from peripheral nerve sheaths found in arms/legs or trunk of body;
  • Rhabdomysosarcoma - arises from skeletal muscle, usually found in arms and legs) and Synovial (tissue of origin is unknown.

Depending on the type of soft tissue sarcoma treatment will vary. Treatment may involve surgery alone or a combination of surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy. The team decides what is the best option based on your tumor.

Bone Cancers

Bone cancers may be classified as primary or metastatic.


Primary bone cancer means the cancer has started in the bone tissue. Primary bone cancers are extremely rare. There are different types of primary bone tumors; some most often seen are:

  • Osteosarcoma - often seen in children and young adults (ages 10-25). Treatment usually involves chemotherapy and surgery. Chemotherapy is given on the sarcoma unit on an inpatient basis. Surgery usually involves a limb salvage/sparing procedure. Occasionally amputation is required but this is very rare nowadays, approximately 5% of the time.
  • Chondrosarcoma - most frequently seen in adults over the age of 50. This type of tumor arises in the cartilage. Treatment usually involves surgical removal.
  • Ewings Sarcoma - most often found in the middle part of the bones such as the pelvis and lower extremities. Seen primarily in children and young adults (age 10-25). Treatment usually involves chemotherapy and surgery. Occasionally radiation may be included in the treatment.

Metastatic bone cancers are cancers that have started somewhere else in the body and spread to the bone. Most common metastatic tumors are related to breast, lung, kidney, thyroid and prostate cancer. Treatment may involve surgery and/or radiation.


Tumors may be benign or malignant. Benign tumors (non-cancerous) are usually treated surgically. Malignant (cancerous) sarcomas may be classified under soft tissue sarcomas or bone cancers.