Sarcoma Awareness

Sarcoma awareness month written over sun breaking through clouds

If someone approached you on the street and asked if you knew about Sarcoma, chances are you may be part of the three in four people that would be confused by the question. To clarify, according to a recent YouGov Poll posted on the Sarcoma UK website, 75% of people don’t know or are not sure what sarcoma is. Of course, that could be due to how truly rare this cancer type is. So, let’s try and reduce the 75% figure during Sarcoma Awareness Month (1st July – 31st July). What do you know about Sarcoma? Let’s find out together as we take a deeper dive into the different types of sarcoma and what the early symptoms may be.

What is a sarcoma?

According to the University Hospital Plymouth, sarcomas are malignant tumours derived from mesenchymal cells in various parts of the body. These include bone, cartilage, blood vessels, muscle, fat, nerves and connective tissue (including that present in the organs). They can develop at any site in the body.

How many different types of sarcoma are there and what causes them?

There are many different types of soft tissue sarcomas but they are usually grouped into soft tissue sarcomas or bone sarcomas which is more commonly known as bone cancer.

The most likely causes for soft tissue sarcoma include:

  • Previous Radiation therapy (Radiotherapy)
  • Age
  • Chemical Exposure

For Bone Cancer:

  • Paget’s disease of the bone
  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome

You can learn more about the varying types of sarcoma and how their cancer cells operate in depth in depth by clicking on the links below:

Soft tissue sarcomas
Bone cancer

 

Are sarcomas common?

Sarcomas are rare cancers, in fact, due to its rarity, in an average GP’s career, they can expect to see only one or two sarcomas in the entirety of their career.

Every year in the UK, there are approximately 4,600 soft tissue sarcomas and 700 bone sarcomas diagnosed annually.

Getting support for sarcoma on the Community

On the Community, we have our dedicated forums where members with soft tissue or bone sarcoma can come together to share their unique experiences with one another. Here on the team we see every day the benefits of peer support and how connecting with others who may be going through a similar situation can provide support in so many ways.

It’s always good to know the medical signs and symptoms to look out for. It can also be really helpful to connect with those who may be going through something similar for emotional support and our Community is here 24/7 for you.

“I have had lots of ups and downs a real rollercoaster ride of emotions but I have been fortunate to have great support around me a brilliant clinical team a great GP and the Macmillan nurses are absolute angels.”
Miss Bee 157 – Bone Cancer Forum

“I am not only amazed at the speed this cancer grew but also the efficiency of the whole process the sarcoma team have got me to this point. I am still a bit in shock but totally grateful for the care I am receiving, and ready for my next step.”
DeeG66 – Soft Tissue Sarcoma Forum

What are the signs and symptoms?

It’s important to note that soft tissue sarcomas have no obvious symptoms in the early stages, but there are some symptoms you can look out for:

Soft tissue sarcomas:

  • swelling under the skin may cause a painless lump that cannot easily be moved around and gets bigger over time
  • swelling in the tummy (abdomen) may cause abdominal pain, a persistent feeling of fullness and constipation
  • swelling near the lungs may cause a cough or breathlessness

Bone sarcomas:

  • Persistent bone pain that continually worsens
  • Swelling and inflammation over a bone, this can limit your movement if the affected bone is near a joint.
  • A visible bump over a bone
  • A bone that fractures easier than normal

If you’re worried about any of the symptoms above, it’s important that you see your GP. Whilst it may be unlikely that it could be a soft tissue/bone sarcoma, it’s important have it investigated further.

Here are some further sources of information about sarcomas:

As rare as these cancers are, it can be comforting knowing there are others sharing a common journey. To quote Miss Bee 157’s perceptive daughter who beautifully said:

“Mum try and see this is as a new journey, there will be struggles and hurdles along the way but try and get some positives from it. You will meet some amazing people and learn so much about yourself try to adapt and listen to your body, when your tired, rest. This will change our lives we will make memories and we will laugh. I did not believe her at the time but she was so right.”
Miss Bee 157 – Bone Cancer Forum    

Did you find this blog helpful? Why not let us know in the comments section below. Also remember to check out the bone cancer and soft tissue sarcoma forums if you want to see what our members are saying about their experience with sarcoma.

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